Open Budgets – Twaweza director presentation

Last week I wrote about the International Budget Project’s Open Government Partnership program. Rakesh Rajani, head of Twaweza, spoke at the OGP launch at the UN in New York. Rakesh is a passionate advocate of open information, open societies, and open government, and this article is an edited version of his presentation.

Open Budgets For People

The core of government is the budget — it’s what structures how private resources get translated into public ones, or redistributed in some form. Sometimes, of course, that redistribution is to the pockets of government employees! So democratic government ought to imply that people are heavily involved in the budget process, including monitoring those flows. In most countries, even ones generally understood to be “democratic,” this is not the case.

The Open Government Partnership, created by the International Budget Project, aims to make budgets accessible to people, following on the leads of countries such as Brazil.

Here is a post from Warren Krafchik from the Open Budgets Blog on the launch of this project:

I am extremely excited about the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and its potential impact on the quality of life of citizens around the world.  We know that there are sufficient public resources available globally to eradicate extreme poverty and inequality.  The problem is the distribution and management of these resources.   Open government practices offer great promise for improving our management of public resources and, therefore, our potential impact on poverty and inequality.

An opportunity for civil society around the world

On Tuesday, 20 September, eight governments will each commit to an action plan to enhance open government in their respective countries.  Approximately 37 other governments will signal their intention to submit similar action plans at a follow-up meeting in Brazil in March 2012.  The launch of the OGP presents a major opportunity for civil society organizations to influence the content and process of these governments’ commitments.  In each partner country, civil society organizations interested in any aspect of open government – including fiscal and extractive revenue transparency and service delivery –should start a conversation with their governments to suggest ambitious and meaningful commitments in these and other areas.   Civil society will also have an important opportunity to influence the consultation process that the government will use to arrive at these commitments and monitor their implementation. Continue reading