Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the only global indicator to measure and compare transparency, public participation, and oversight of the budget process internationally. This study, led by the International Budget Partnership (a Washington think tank) every two years, is conducted in a decentralized manner, with a team responsible for analyzing the national situation in each of the 115 countries participating in this initiative. In Portugal, the partner of this project is the Institute of Public Policy since the 2015 edition.
The conclusions of the OBS are the result of an objective and rigorous survey consisting of 145 research questions assessing three key areas: transparency, participation and oversight. Each country is assigned a score of 0 to 100 in these domains (which determines its ranking in the Open Budget Index), based on the analysis of the publicly available budget documentation.
There are eight budget key documents analyzed: Pre-Budget Statement, Executive Budget Proposal, Enacted Budget, Citizens Budget, In-year Report, Mid-year review, Year-end Report, and Audit Report.
Open Budget Survey 2017
Despite progress, Portuguese Budget remains less transparent than Russia’s or Brazil’s. And the opportunities given to citizens to participate in the decision-making process on public resources are very scarce. This is the conclusion of the international Open Budget Survey 2017. Portugal, in the rankings assigned by the survey, is at a “significant” level, but it has a long way to go in improving budget transparency, with a score of 66 points out of 100.
However, it is substantially higher than the global average of 42 points. The first Budget of the “Geringonça” (term emerged from the Portuguese right-wing parties to criticize António Costa when he negotiated a dealing with the Portuguese Communist and Bloco de Esquerda Parties to ensure a parliamentary support for the new government) analyzed by this global indicator improves against the 2015 Budget, albeit very slightly: in OBS 2015 Portugal had achieved a result of 64 points. With this result, Portugal presents a budget process that is less transparent than the one presented in several countries with worse scores in the Human Development Index: as in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Brazil , Peru or Mexico. At the European level, the Nordic countries lead the ranking as the best countries in budgetary transparency.
But in a global way, not everything is negative. Portugal is ranked as the 22nd country in the world with a better fiscal transparency index – only one position lower than it had in 2015. The decline is due, in part, to the non-publication of the Citizens Budget, contrary to what happened in 2015. However, there are other, more serious, shortcomings. Improving the minimum score on the scale of public participation – with 15 points out of 100 possible – should be a priority. Opportunities for public participation in the budget process are very few (equal to zero for executive intervention).
In the field of budgetary oversight, the performance of legislative power in Portugal is considered to be “adequate” only with regard to the formulation/approval phase by Parliament (86 points out of 100), and the implementation/audit phase is classified as ” limited “(53 out of 100). Also, the budgetary oversight carried out by the institution with the responsibility for control and audit is considered to be “adequate”.