Increasing Budget Transparency at the SubNational Level

Tales from Two Regions in Cameroon
ICGFM Conference May 23, 2013
Governor Abakar Ahamat Martin Luis Alton Sanjay Agarwal



Budget Transparency
Using Budgets to Empower Citizens

Budget transparency refers to the extent and ease with which citizens can access information about and provide feedback on government revenues, allocations, and expenditures. Budget transparency leads to: – Less corruption – Efficient use of resources – More trust in government – Higher revenues

Transparency Feedback Loop

The Cameroonian Context
• Cameroon ranks 144th on 2012 Corruption Perception Index • Score of 10 on OBI 2012: provide scant or no information • Ongoing decentralization program • Thus BTI is both necessary and timely • Two regions chosen for pilot due to expressed interest of governors • Stark differences between two regions (development, administration, density of population, literacy, civil society capacity)

Number of Pilot Institutions
• • • • 40 Primary Schools 30 Secondary Schools 32 Health Centers 15 Municipalities • • • •

55 Primary Schools 26 Secondary Schools 26 Health Centers 13 Municipalities

Budget Transparency Initiative Activities
• Creation of regional steering committees • Simplified budgets disseminated widely (public meetings) • Radio programs on budget issues and Facebook page • Cameroon Budget Inquirer • Budget transparency day

School Specific Activities
• Drama and arts competition/performances • Budget clubs in secondary schools • Open Books certification process

Secondary School Template

Local Councils Specific Activities
• Simplified budgets disseminated widely in public meetings • Local Council Citizen Budget • Local Budget Transparency Index

Tignère Council Citizen Budget

Key Findings from Schools
• Budgets are generally opaque • Closed budgets hinder cooperation between principals and PTAs • Students show lively interest in budget dissemination • Budget disclosure reveals problems (medical booklet) and clarifies use of funds (laboratory fees) • Facilitation key – Regional Delegates well placed to facilitate

Key Findings from Local Councils
• Mayors claim to be very transparent; disputed by other stakeholders • Reliance on councilors to disseminate budget information – this does often not work due to:
– Low capacity; councilors not residing in constituencies; budget documents not being shared in advance

• Budget documents at best available upon request and at own cost (as per law) • Participation low – mobilization requires concerted efforts

Preliminary Recommendations
• Process guidelines to strengthen budget transparency, which include:
– Communiqués announcing council sessions through radio and other means – Stipulations to share budget documents a minimum of two weeks in advance with councilors; and that councilors communicate their content to their constituents through public meetings and/or radio

• Encourage councilors’ active participation in sessions though, e.g.:
– Broadcasting council session in community radios – Publishing performance index for councilors – Publishing records of councillors’ attendance at council sessions

• Actively monitor timely dissemination of council session meeting minutes • Benchmark local councils’ budget transparency with index (cf. Open Budget Index or Local Budget Transparency Index) • Institute Local Council Citizens’ Budgets

Promoting Accountability…

Lessons Learned and Challenges
• Reluctance of some heads of institutions to participate; need to sensitize and assist them in data collection • Finding good implementing partner is difficult but crucial • Understanding books of account and getting data • Creation of simplified templates (need to be user-friendly but capture relevant information) • Inclusion of traditional authorities and all other stakeholders including women; • Mobilization of communities • Language barriers • Making budget issues somehow interesting • Sustainability (continuing involvement of authorities; securing funds)

Results (NWR)
• GTHS Bamenda reallocates over 1 million XAF to computer lab maintenance • Over 5 million recovered from illegal fees collection from GBHS Bafut • A corrupt hospital director at Tubah District Hospital removed after community reacts against him for not disclosing budget • Community members support Atuakom health centre with night watchman and hospital janitor after realising that hospital allocations are low • Increased bonuses for staff at Bambili hospital

Results (Adamawa)
• Increased tax revenues (cattle tax in Ngaoundère III, Adamawa, increased from 0 to 763 000 XAF from 2011 - 2012) • More trust and better relations between mayors and community (Mbe, Adamawa, and Ngaoundère I, Adamawa)

From a Trickle to a Deluge…Some Ideas
Global efforts to promote fiscal transparency should consider the following: • Targeting fiscal information directly and proactively at citizens by simplification, visualization and dissemination • Encouraging governments to publish data in standard, machine-readable formats. • Closing the Fiscal Transparency Feedback Loop: Supporting governments to respond to fiscal information requests • Creating spaces for citizens to collaborate

Thank You!
Governor Abakar Ahamat ( Martin Luis Alton ( ) Sanjay Agarwal (

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