In the new issue of IPF Notes, Mihaela Bronić and Josip Franić comment on the results of the most recent round of research conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) on central government budget transparency.

Croatia, with 67 points (out of a maximum of 100), ranks 24th out of the 125 countries included in the analysis. Although this score is three points higher than in the previous research round (2021), there is still substantial room for improvement, not only with regard to publishing timely and intelligible information on the collection and spending of budget funds, but also with regard to including the public in budget-related processes.

The Open Budget Index (OBI) is the only independent and internationally comparable indicator of the quality and quantity of online information on central government budgets. It has been published regularly since 2006 and is compiled based on responses to 109 questions exploring the availability, timeliness and exhaustiveness of eight key budget documents: Pre-Budget Statement, Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget, Citizens Budget, In-Year Reports, Mid-Year Report, Year-End Report and Audit Report.  The final result is expressed on a 0-100 scale, whereby higher scores indicate higher transparency levels.

The results of the ninth round of IBP’s survey for 2023 once again do not paint an optimistic picture at the global level. The average Index value for all 125 countries included in the analysis still stands at 45, just like in the previous two research rounds. In other words, only 45% of key budget revenue and expenditure information was made available to the citizens of the analysed countries on average. Similar to previous rounds, the highest-ranked countries are Georgia (87), New Zealand (87), Sweden (85) and South Africa (83) (Table 1). The bottom of the list is populated by Afghanistan, Yemen and Venezuela, whose governments provide no information about the central government budget to their citizens.

Even though, with its 67 points, Croatia is classified as a country that publishes a “substantial amount of budget information”, results in previous years used to be even better. For instance, in 2019 Croatia scored 68, ranking it 21st among the world’s countries. Given this, we can conclude that there has been no visible improvement in recent years.