To Make Budget Data (Five Key Budget Reports) and Quarterly Audit Committee Reports Accessible Online Each Year. (KIG0005)
Action Plan: Not Attached
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Planning, Statistics and Monitoring Department
Support Institution(s): Government Ministry of Finance and Planning Ministry of Regional Administration and Local Government Civil Society, Private Sector KIUNGONET KIVIDEA NYAKITONTO Youth for Development Kigoma Ujiji TOMSHA NETWORK MWOCACHI KIWOHEDE Members of Media Religious Leaders Kigoma Development Initiative (KDI)
Policy AreasAnti-Corruption, Audits, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Local Commitments, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information
Issue to be addressed: Kigoma Ujiji Municipal Council every year prepares and approves its budget. This budget is for the people of Kigoma Ujiji. Not so many people know what is in the budget and make a follow up. Regularly tend to complain. Executives find it to be the problem. In order to provide citizens with comprehensive information on the Council’s plans and expenditure, useful platform is to disclose information particularly online. This is a user friendly and stakeholders can analyze the budget using a wide range of techniques. Residents can make follow up and ask their leaders in case they are not satisfied. Primary objective: To provide online Municipal budget reports and quarterly reports of the audit committee for public use. Short description: Kigoma Ujiji Municipal Council is committed to publish online key bdgets documents in order to provide citizens with detailed information on the Municipal plans, collection and expenditure. Basically, online information provides useful platforms for stakeholders to analyze the budget and put their contributions that enable the Municipality to come out with effective and more implementable budget that answer peoples questions. Also, residents of Municipality will be in the position to advice Municipality leaders on their priorities to be considered in the next budgets and to make them respond to their responsibilities. OGP Challenge: Transparency in the budget process is central to the transparent operation of public institutions. The importance of budget transparency begins when the budget process starts, and continues throughout approval processes, during implementation and in the preparation and audit of accounts. When such information is openly and easily available, stakeholders can comment and submit their contributions to make the budget relevant and deliverable, and thus improve the lives of beneficiaries. To achieve this commitment, the Municipality intends to do the following: Information on the annual budget to be disclosed for public use Budget priorities and local and outside sources of income to be disclosed The draft budget prepared by experts made open for public use The draft budget approved by Council made open for public use The budget as passed by Parliament made open for public use A “citizens budget” summary of revised budget as passed by Parliament prepared Mid-year budget reports made open for public use Income and Expenditure statements made open for public use Reports of debts made open for public use Audit reports made open for public use The results of the Municipal Council’s report to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government Accounts (LAAC) made open for public use.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
✪5. Open Budget
To make budget data (Five key budget reports) and quarterly Audit Committee reports accessible online each year.
Kigoma Ujiji Municipal Council every year prepares and approves its budget. This budget is for the people of Kigoma Ujiji. Not so many people know what is in the budget and make a follow up. [People] regularly tend to complain. Executives find it to be the problem.
In order to provide citizens with comprehensive information on the Council’s plans and expenditure, useful platform is to disclose information particularly online. This is a user friendly and stakeholders can analyze the budget using a wide range of techniques. Residents can make follow up and ask their leaders in case they are not satisfied. Also, residents of Municipality will be in the position to advice Municipality leaders on their priorities to be considered in the next budgets and to make them respond to their responsibilities.
Kigoma Ujiji Municipal Council is committed to publish online key budgets documents in order to provide citizens with detailed information on the Municipal plans, collection and expenditure. Basically, online information provides useful platforms for stakeholders to analyze the budget and put their contributions that enable the Municipality to come out with effective and more implementable budget that answer people’s questions.
5.1. Information on the annual budget to be disclosed for public use end of June 2017
5.2. Budget priorities, local and outside sources of income to be disclosed on January 2017
5.3. The draft budget prepared by experts made open for public use on January 2017
5.4. The draft budget approved by Council made open for public use on February 2017
5.5. The budget as passed by Parliament made open for public use on July 2017
5.6. A “citizens budget” summary of revised budget as passed by Parliament prepared at Mid July 2017
5.7. Mid-year budget reports made open for public use on January 2017
5.8. Income and Expenditure statements made open for public use monthly
5.9. Reports of debts made open for public use quarterly
5.10. Audit reports made open for public use quarterly
5.11. The results of the Municipal Council’s report to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government Accounts (LAAC) made open for public use one month after
Overall Objective & Relevance
In the last few years, Kigoma Ujiji has received poor ratings on the annual Controller and Auditor General Report. National Audit Office (2017) Annual General Report of the Controller and Auditor General on the Financial Statements for the Financial Year 2015-16 – Local Government, http://www.nao.go.tz/?wpfb_dl=225. Additionally, the most recent Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Assessment of Kigoma Ujiji notes poor oversight of the budget process with limited controls over budget expenditure. The Ministry of Finance commissioned the assessment to PWC as part of the Sub National PEFA Assessments supported by the German Development Bank (KfW), https://pefa.org/sites/default/files/TZ-Jul16-PFMPR-SN-Final%20Consolidated%20Report_1.pdf. According to the Municipal Council, there is limited possibility for citizen oversight of the budget process as citizens lack access to credible budget data such as budget execution and audit reports. From interviews with the Kigoma-based CSO Nyakitonto Youth for Development, poor budget performance is attributed to the lack of interest among citizens to follow up on key commitments made in the budget. The lack of budget transparency also dissuades public officials to account for the use of public funds. Notably, the lack of publicly available budget data makes it difficult for citizens to monitor the implementation of development projects in the municipality. Joel Ramadhani, Programme Coordinator at Nyakitonto Youth for Development, interview with the IRM researcher, September 2017.
With this context in mind, the Municipal Council has committed to make budget data (five key budget reports) and quarterly Audit Committee reports accessible online each year. It also calls for the preparation of a “citizen budget” (Milestone 5.6), which is a less ‘technical’ version of the budget document that is easier for citizens to interpret and contextualize. The commitment is relevant to the OGP value of access to information because it explicitly aims to disclose government-held information like key budget and audit reports. However, as written, it is not considered relevant to civic participation, as it does not call for the creation of a public-facing mechanism to formally allow citizen participation in government policy-making. Furthermore, it is not relevant to public accountability because it does not call for a mechanism or intervention that call upon the government actors to justify their actions or act upon criticisms from citizens.
Specificity and Potential Impact
The IRM researcher rates the commitment as having medium specificity. While the commitment gives detailed timelines within which key budget and audit data will be published, including timelines for the specific milestones, it does not describe the platform to be used for the disclosure of such information nor the format in which it should be published.
If fully implemented, citizens would be provided key budgetary information was not easily accessible in the past. For example, the Nyakitonto Youth for Development Organization considers that this commitment could have a significant impact towards improved access to information policies in the budgetary process. Previously, the process to attain this information required a formal written request, whereas the commitment proposes the proactive disclosure of government-held information. Additionally, the commitment could represent an important step towards systematizing the publication of budgetary information. For these reasons, the commitment is regarded as potentially transformative.
Overall, the implementation of this commitment has been substantial. Of the 11 milestones, eight have been completed. The IRM was able to review the information on the council website; http://www.kigomaujijimc.go.tz/announcements/1 which is presented in PDF downloadable format, making it easier for consumers to make use of it even while offline. In view of the commitment’s start and end dates, the commitment remains on schedule with the exception of the milestones on reports to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government Accounts, the citizens’ budget, and the list of debts and liabilities. The commitment has also proved easier to fulfill due to the readily availability data from both the subnational and the national governments.
Early results: did it open government?
Access to information: Major
Civil society reports significant utilization of budget information posted on the Council website for public expenditure tracking. The IRM researcher was informed in an interview with Nyakitonto Youth for Development Tanzania (NYDT) that the organization has been using the information to monitor public expenditure in nine wards in the municipality in which they work. They claim that the availability of such data has contributed to effectively improve public oversight of public funds through the ward integrity committees, which they have formulated. Examples of such wards include Kagera and Kipampa River where, as a result of the availability of budget data, it was uncovered that public officials misused public funds raised from user fees and sales of cashewnut trees for which a lower amount of funds was reportedly collected as opposed to budget estimates. While civil society and the public have become more engaged because of this commitment and have used the ward committee meetings to hold government officials accountable for misused funds, it should be noted that the Ward Committee Meetings themselves existed prior to the action plan.
The publication of budgetary information at the Municipal Council level has mostly not been replicated at the grassroots levels of government. As a result of the publications, citizens are more eager to follow up on budgetary information, and there are now growing calls to share information on projects being implemented across the municipality. In this regard, the grassroots-level leaders are experiencing a surge in requests for information on budgets and particularly project implementation in their respective streets.
Making budgetary data open is an important step towards promoting public financial accountability. However, the disclosure of information should first ensure that the public is able to understand and engage with such information. It is critical that a feedback mechanism is developed in addition to the disclosure of information in order for such transparency to be utilized. Such feedback mechanisms ought to be built from the ground up, i.e. from grassroots-local government and Street Assemblies. This way, the Municipal Council will be able to reinforce accountability. This would also allow the subnational government to continuously receive feedback from the citizens on its performance on public finances.
Moreover, for such information to reach its potential, it is imperative to encourage the public to work closely with grassroots local government to mobilize public participation. So far, CSOs like Nyakitonto have acted as interlocutors to help citizens understand newly available budget information. In the long term, it is pertinent that such information be communicated in a manner easier for citizens to interact with including the provision of a feedback mechanism. The complex format in which the information is currently presented prevents broader participation, as citizens rely on civil society to make meaningful engagement. The absence of a citizens’ budget presents a lost opportunity as it could have been an important tool to spark public debate. The Municipal Council should prioritize its publication in future action plans but also consider developing similar formats for audit and other financial reports developed at the municipal.