The latest report by the International Budget Partnership detailing the state of budget transparency and public participation in the budget process in 100 countries has given Tunisia poor marks in nearly every reported category.
Released January 23, the 2012 Open Budget Survey – and its accompanying quantified 0-100 score, known as the Open Budget Index – gave Tunisia a score of 11 out of a possible 100, leaving it in the company of Qatar, Zimbabwe, China, and Myanmar as countries releasing a scant-to-nonexistent amount of budget data for public review and discussion.
Tunisia fared poorly in a number of key transparency performance metrics, among them as having a legislature lacking adequate powers to perform a proper budget oversight role and having a weak independent audit office.
The Middle East and North Africa fared the worst of the seven regions drawn up by the study, coming in with an average score of 18 against the next lowest average score of 33 for Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States and Western Europe region scored highest with an average of 75.
The report notes that overall “the [Open Budget Index] scores are not impressive,” with the average scores among the 100 countries falling at 43 out of a possible 100. Of five possible groups, Only 6 countries scored in the top group of those surveyed, with 17, 36, 15, and 26 countries falling into the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th groupings, respectively.
The results of the Open Budget Survey and Index derive from a methodology that measures the budget transparency and civilian budget access and participation rates against a series of 95 key questions and the availability of eight key budget documents, among them the Executive’s Budget Proposal explaining the government’s specific policy plans, a Mid-Year Review of the government’s accounts, an Audit Report presented by the country’s supreme audit institution, and a Citizens Budget presenting the budget in simplified, non-technical language.
Tunisia was noted for lacking access to or even production of a Pre-Budget Statement, a Citizens Budget, and a Mid-Year Review, while only having an Executive’s Budget Proposal available only for internal government use. Tunisia also recorded a low result for public engagement with the budgeting process, only just besting Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Angola in this regard.
Though the Open Budget Index was previously published in 2006, 2008, and 2010, Tunisia did not receive a score until the 2012 report.