Why should governments be open and transparent in their budgets

I’m speaking at the eGovernment Summit today on how Australia is performing in the open government stakes, and what are the benefits of openness to government.

As a reference I reviewed the 2012 Open Budget Survey (infographic right), released in January this year, which provides valuable insights into why openness in budgeting is important and which nations are doing well.

The Survey points out openness is important in overcoming public sector corruption, helps government manage debt, helps build foreign investment and trade, provides access to cheaper capital for infrastructure and assists in building trust with citizens.

The 2012 Survey found that the world has a long way to go towards government openness, at least in budgetary terms. It found that the national budgets of 77 of the 100 countries assessed, countries that are home to half the world’s population, failed to meet basic standards of budget transparency. Only one nation, South Korea, was considered strong.

Australia was not assessed in this Open Budget Survey and, based on other measures, already does reasonably well in making our Commonwealth and State budgets open to citizen understanding and scrutiny.

However the question we should always ask is how can we do better?

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