Provincial Open Budget Index 2018 Released

2:10:01 PM | 6/17/2019

On June 12, 2019, the Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation (BTAP), the Center for Development and Integration (CDI) and the Vietnam Institute of Economic and Policy Research (VEPR), announced the Provincial Open Budget Index (POBI) 2018. This is the second year in a row that provincial budget transparency is ranked.

Many positive steps

The Provincial Open Budget Index (POBI) is a tool for provinces and cities to reference and measure the degree of publicity and transparency in State budget management and the level of enforcing the State Budget Law, helping increase the trust of the public and development partners in local budget management.

POBI 2018 consists of two pillars: Budget transparency disclosure and public participation. 2018 is the first year the POBI survey is added participation elements. This is also an instrument for Vietnam to carry out administrative and fiscal reform efforts, helping realize commitments to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on transparency, accountability and public participation.

Dr. Vu Sy Cuong, VEPR researcher, said that the average score of POBI 2018 was 51 on a 100-point scale, much higher than the average score of 30.5 points in 2017. No province scored zero points.

POBI rankings are based on 65 questions for transparency pillar with nine types of documents, including seven compulsory documents under the 2015 State Budget Law. At the time, the survey also assessed the completeness, timeliness, availability and convenience of local budget documents.

Six provinces are fully open (compared to no one in 2017), including Vinh Long (90.52 points), Ba Ria - Vung Tau (85.91 points), Da Nang (83.09 points), Vinh Phuc (82.05 points), Quang Nam (76.68 points) and Hau Giang (76.66 points). 27 are relatively open, 21 are partially open and only nine are slightly open.

However, 32 cities and provinces still have scores below the average, led by Hanoi (49.72 points) and Ho Chi Minh City (48.98 points). Despite considerable efforts, about 50% of localities still need further compliance and improve the level of openness in the provincial budget.

The Mekong Delta region has the highest POBI score in the country, reaching 58.72 points, higher than the national average (50.07 points). Against high expectations, the Red River Delta ranked fourth among seven geographic regions, scoring just 50.16 points.

Facilitating public participation

Regarding the level of public participation, the 2018 POBI survey show that provinces provide little opportunity for people to participate in local budget management. Information portals of all 63 provinces and cities have a question and answer section and contact email.

The average score of Provincial Open Budget Index 2018 was 51 on a 100-point scale, much higher than the score of 30.5 in 2017.

Notably, 47 provinces and cities made public their budget estimates in 2019 submitted to the Provincial People’s Committee for approval but only 29 localities have made public in time, seven provinces are behind time and 11 announced after 30 days or remained uncertain of disclosure. Thus, the public goal of drafting state budget estimates for public opinions did not achieved.

Therefore, CDI and VEPR recommended that provinces and cities need to be proactive in responding to public questions about the budget and develop and publish internal regulations on information provision processes under the Law on Access to Information.

According to experts, for people to easily access public documents, electronic portals of the Provincial People’s Committee and the Provincial Department of Finance need to make full disclosure of budget documents as specified in the law. State budget documents need to be publicized on time. The publicity needs to supplement information about the time of publication of the document.

Huong Ly