|Nguyễn Đức Thành, director of the VESS, speaking in his keynote speech. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Đức
HÀ NỘI — The average ranking of budget transparency for localities in 2021 was 69.53 points out of 100, a rise of just 0.44 points compared to 2020. The numbers suggest that most localities have not fully disclosed information about their finances to the public.
The data was published in the 2021 Provincial Open Budget Index (POBI), announced at a ceremony in Hà Nội on Wednesday by the Budget Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (BTAP) Alliance, the Centre for Development and Integration (CDI), and the Việt Nam Centre for Economic and Strategic Studies (VESS).
Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu remained at the top of the rankings with 98.59 points. Quảng Bình, Khánh Hòa and Quảng Ninh are the three most improved localities in the rankings, while Ninh Bình, Tây Ninh and Lâm Đồng's performances dropped significantly.
POBI is based on three principles: budget transparency, accountability of provincial organisations, and public participation in the budget-building process.
The index aims to encourage greater transparency, accountability and management of public finance; create positive competition between provinces; and ensure public trust in provincial public budget management.
Particularly in the criteria of public participation, POBI has shown that provinces mostly did not allow citizens to join in the budget-building process. The average score of public participation for all 63 localities is just 41.8/100. Đà Nẵng still tops the leaderboard in this criteria, whereas Đắk Nông has the worst record with only 8.3 points.
In the accountability criteria, the average score of all 63 localities is 48.2 out of 100, with 41 localities (65.08 per cent) publicising their plan to assess and manage the budget.
"We are seeing more localities publicise their budgets," said Nguyễn Đức Thành, director of the VESS. He add: "There are 31 localities that fully made their budget public, four more than in 2020."
The report also perceived that most localities that have good budget practices tend to continue these good habits, such as Vũng Tàu, Vĩnh Long, Đà Nẵng, Cao Bằng, and Lai Châu.
"We hope that localities become more and more serious in publicising budget plans according to the rule of law," said Thành.
Nguyễn Quang Thương, director of BTAP, said the fact that there were five localities that have a POBI index of 91 or higher has shown that the publicising of the budget according to the 2015 Law on State Budget can be achieved.
"In the future, the localities that have not fully publicised their budget need to do so completely," said Thương. "Agencies and individuals who did not complete their tasks in publicising budgets must be reprimanded," he added.
At the conference, delegates also recommended localities soon make public documents relating to the 2015 Law on State Budget and the 2016 Law on Information Access.
Localities should also keep improving their performance in budget publication. They should also provide email addresses for the public so that all citizens can join in the conversation and contribute to the public budget-building process. — VNS