Press release: Open Up the Budget Data

We appeal to the Ministry of Finance to improve the transparency of the national budget by implementing the practice of budgetary data in the form that would allow the data processing and searching.

In December 2014 during the parliamentary discussion on The Budget Proposal, Institute Alternative has referred to the Ministry of Finance with an initiative to share with MPs, civil society and citizens the original budgetary documents in order that all the actors become equal in its analysis. Until today, we didn’t get the response, not have the required documents been published in machine readable form.

At the moment, the Ministry of Finance does not publish budgetary data in the form that would allow computer data management, comparison to previous years and analysis (e.g. excel document). For example, for all actors outside the Ministry of Finance, the Budget Proposal for year 2015 was available only in the scanned PDF form, which does not allow the search or any computer data processing.

Data published in the (scanned) PDF form are “locked” – they are impossible to manage or to analyze, comparisons, while the search is almost impossible.

Therefore, we appeal to the Ministry of Finance to publish data from the adopted Law on Budget and final accounts of the budget since the year 2010 onward in excel form on their website. Furthermore, we appeal to the Ministry to start implementing the practice of delivering the Budget proposal to the Parliament and publishing it in the excel form (in addition to the usual method of delivery).

We consider that it is necessary to publish excel tables with the following information: receipts and expenditures sorted by type and economic classification (as the general part), as well as the allocation of the budgetary spending units and expenditures by economic classification (special part).

This step would not require any additional efforts for the employees of the Ministry, but only publishing the existing documentation on the website of the Ministry. The national budget is the originally being prepared in excel spreadsheets, from the budget circulars that are fulfilled by the consumer units to the budget proposal composed by the Ministry of Finance.

We remind that publishing of budgetary data in this way is one of the principles of transparency in the field of management of the public resources, by the initiative of Open Government Partnership (OGP), which Montenegro is the part of. Also, this is one of the criteria of the budget transparency insisted on by the organizations that assess countries’ progress in this regard, such as the International Budget Project (Open Budget Index).

Since four months have passed from the moment when we sent the initiative with no response, we are advocating and herewith call to all interested stakeholders to join us in this appeal to the Ministry of Finance.

Marko Sošić
Public Policy Researcher

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