Public participation in budget vital – analyst

PUBLIC policy analyst Graham Hopwood says public participation in the national budget process is crucial as it increases public trust in the government.

The following are key reasons why Hopwood believes public understanding of budgeting is essential:

“It is important that the public adds input to the budget process. This increases public trust in the government and helps to ensure accountability and transparency,” Hopwood says.

The budget is the single most important piece of legislation the government brings to the parliament, because it indicates the government’s overall priorities for the country.

Government rhetoric may stress certain issues, but how it spends its money indicates what issues it thinks are most important, Hopwood says.

He says in the global Open Budget Survey, Namibia usually scores a zero for public participation in the budget process.

In the last few years, the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises, under Iipumbu Shiimi, has been organising more formal consultation with various sectors and in the regions.

“We expect Namibia’s public participation score to go up in the Open Budget Survey to be published later this year. Last August civil society met with the minister and the National Planning Commission director general to discuss budget priorities.

“Civil society organisations were able to send submissions to the ministry and we can see the government is now acting on some of the issues that were pushed, such as housing and land servicing.

“We encourage the ministry to roll out further consultations in the future,” Hopwood said.

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