SA is tops in transparency

DESPITE a massive R60bn revenue shortfall expected to be announced by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba,Picture: Supplied

DESPITE a massive R60bn revenue shortfall expected to be announced by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in three weeks’ time when he presents his first national budget, South Africa tops the list when it comes to transparency in the budget.

Government revenue looks set to fall significantly, bumping up the budget deficit and putting South Africa’s credit rating at risk of another downgrade. But despite this negativity, South Africa is tops when it comes to present a “fair” budget.

The 2017 Open Budget Index (OBI) survey released yesterday puts South Africa joint first with New Zealand out of 115 countries, saying the country’s efforts to deepen transparency in budget processes have been recognised internationally.

The OBI survey assesses the availability of eight key budget documents in each of the 115 countries and considers the comprehensiveness of data in these documents. The survey also examines the extent of effective oversight provided by legislatures, the independent fiscal institutions and the supreme audit institutions and the opportunities available to the public to participate in national budget processes.

South Africa achieved a score of 89 out of 100 in terms of transparency, up from 86 in 2015. Gigaba has applauded the result, saying South Africans should be proud of this achievement, which entrenches its reputation as a global leader.

“This is evidenced by the expansive budget information that is published for public analysis and scrutiny,” he said. Gigaba said the challenge now is for South Africans, parliamentarians, the media, civil society and the general public to use the information published in the budget documents more effectively.

Analysts said not everything about South Africa is perceived negatively by the global stage but the country shines in many areas and gives many developed nations a hard run for its money in critical areas.