Our colleague Branko Stanić held a lecture on February 15, 2023 at the International Monetary Fund regional workshop for Southeast Europe "GovTech: Fiscal Data Governance" hosted by the Center of Excellence in Finance in Ljubljana. In the presentation "Ways to promote online budget transparency: the example of Croatian local governments", he presented ways of measuring and promoting online budget transparency and the general conclusions of two projects: Understanding, monitoring and analysing local government budget transparency: Case study of Croatia and Slovenia – Open Local Budget Index and Does transparency pay-off? The political and socio-economic impacts of local government budget transparency in Croatia. Both projects were financed by the Croatian Science Foundation.
The increase in budget transparency of Croatian local units in the last few years is a significant step forward, whereby the leaders of municipalities, cities and counties show greater responsibility for collecting, distributing and spending public funds. In achieving higher levels of transparency, the action of all parties – local executive and representative authorities, media, civil society, scientists, and citizens – is crucial. In addition to the publication of extensive budget documents, leaders of local units should also continuously work on finding new IT solutions to bring the budgets as close as possible to the citizens. Other stakeholders should continue to strengthen the pressure on the local executive power so that the process of improving transparency can be upgraded anew.
However, budget transparency is not an end in itself, but a key step towards further democratization of the budget process, increasing the budget literacy of councilors and citizens so that they can participate as constructively as possible in making decisions that affect the quality of life of citizens. The recommendations to the Government and the Ministry of Finance aim to prescribe a legal obligation to publish all key budget documents and establish a unique platform through which local units will submit these documents in formats suitable for further processing. In this way, the availability and quality of budget documents will be improved, thereby facilitating mechanisms such as insufficiently represented participatory budgeting.
The participants of the workshop were officials from ministries of finance of Southeast Europe involved in data governance, financial reporting, implementing PFM digital solutions, maintaining data registries, and data interoperability infrastructure.
More about the workshop can be found on the website of the organizer.