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  • Friday, 21 June 2024
Sierra Leone Improves in Global Rankings on Budget Transparency

Sierra Leone Improves in Global Rankings on Budget Transparency

Sierra Leone has made significant strides in budget transparency, as evidenced by its improved score in the 2023 Open Budget Survey (OBS). The country's transparency index rose to 55% in 2023, a remarkable increase from 45% in 2021, placing Sierra Leone 10 points above the global average of 45%.

 

### Climbing the Global Ranks

 

This advancement has elevated Sierra Leone from 64th position in 2021 to 47th position in 2023 among 125 surveyed countries. This new ranking positions Sierra Leone ahead of several neighboring countries, including Liberia (52%), Ghana (46%), Gambia (36%), São Tomé e Príncipe (32%), Nigeria (31%), and Equatorial Guinea (4%).

 

### Key Factors in Improved Scores

 

The notable improvement in Sierra Leone’s transparency score can be attributed to the publication of critical financial documents such as the Citizens’ Budget, the Enacted Budget, and In-Year Reports. These publications are mandated by the 2016 Public Financial Management Act and its subsequent 2018 regulations.

 

However, despite these improvements, Sierra Leone's score still falls short of the 60% benchmark. To further enhance budget transparency, Abu Bakarr Kamara, Coordinator of the Budget Advocacy Network (BAN), emphasized the need for the government to publish the Pre-Budget Statement online at least one month before presenting the Executive’s Budget Proposal to Parliament and to release the Mid-Year Review three months after the end of the first half of the fiscal year.

 

### Decline in Citizen Participation

 

While the country has made progress in transparency, citizen participation in the budget process has seen a decline, dropping to 20% in 2023 from 31% in 2021. This reduction is significant, considering that 70% more citizens were involved in budget formulation in 2021 compared to 2023. Participation in budget execution was at 17%, and 33% of citizens selected issues for the Audit Service Sierra Leone to audit.

 

### Audit and Legislative Oversight

 

Sierra Leone’s audit oversight score experienced an increase, climbing to 78% in 2023 from 72% in 2021. Conversely, legislative oversight saw a slight decline, dropping from 33% in 2021 to 30% in 2023. Anjali Garg, head of the Open Budget Survey, highlighted the global challenge of maintaining accountability systems but noted that countries like South Africa and Mexico have demonstrated that progress is possible with strong political will.

 

### The Importance of Open Budget Practices

 

Garg emphasized the importance of open budget practices in building public trust and potentially lowering borrowing costs, especially in a global context marked by high debt and inequality. She expressed hope that more countries would embrace transparent budget processes, enabling public consultation and scrutiny to ensure that resources are effectively allocated to those in need.

 

### The Open Budget Survey

 

The Open Budget Survey is the world’s only comparative, independent, and regular assessment of transparency, oversight, and public participation in public budgets. In 2023, the survey included 125 countries, providing a comprehensive overview of the state of budget transparency worldwide.

 

Sierra Leone's improved performance in the OBS highlights its commitment to enhancing budget transparency and accountability, setting a positive example for other nations in the region and beyond.

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