Center for Social Research Analitika has published a policy brief titled "Public Access to Local Budgets: Making Local Government Budget Documents Easily Available to Citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina", as a result of the research project "Assessment of Local Fiscal Transparency in BiH”, supported by Open Society Fund Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The policy brief recommendations are based on the part of the policy study "Assessment of budget transparency in Municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina" that analyzes public availability of local government budget documents, published by Analitika in January 2011 (the report is available here in local language).
According to the policy brief executive summary:
"Easy access to and the availability of budget documents is considered to be a key indicator of transparent budgeting practices. In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), important budget documents at the local government level are frequently not easily available to citizens. Some documents that would facilitate understanding of budgetary matters among citizens – such as citizens budgets – are not produced at all. Such practice can contribute to citizen distrust and lower political participation, reflected in a lower voter turnout. Moreover, a lack of transparency can weaken oversight of local government performance. Although local government budgeting in BiH certainly needs to undergo substantial reform in the long run to achieve greater transparency, there are a number of smaller-scale reforms that policymakers in BiH can focus on to yield more accessible, more transparent budgets as a first step towards such reform."
The policy brief gives the following recommendations:
• Local governments should have a legal obligation to have official websites.
• Entity budget laws should prescribe timely publishing of all relevant local budget documents on official websites and in official gazettes for easier information access.
• Documents that would facilitate the understanding of budgetary matters among citizens – such as citizens budgets - should become a legal obligation for local governments in BiH.
• Policymakers should plan capacity-building activities for local governments on online availability of documents, as well as the creation of citizen-friendly budgets.
The full policy brief is available HERE.