The International Budget Partnership (IBP) in collaboration with the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) has released the latest Open Budget Survey (OBS) 2021 results for Fiji. The survey found that most countries preserved accountable spending practices in their annual budget processes during the pandemic.
Programme Manager, Lusia Lagilevu, highlights that CCF has been part of this research since 2008 through monitoring hard copies of the Budget books released by the then Ministry of Finance and then through monitoring of government websites on the availability of budget documents.
“We are involved in this work because budgets are linked to human rights development. The national budget is an essential policy instrument of government through which it can deliver its promises to the people,” said Ms. Lagilevu.
In the latest OBS 2021, Fiji scored 37/100 in the area of Transparency, 17/100 in Public Participation and 28/100 in Budget Oversight. Fiji has fallen by two points in Transparency from the last score in 2019. A transparency score of 61 or above indicates a country is likely publishing enough material to support informed public debate on the budget. Fiji ranks 79 out of 120 countries. To improve on budget transparency, Fiji should publish the Pre-Budget Statement and In-Year Reports online in a timely manner, produce and publish the Citizens’ Budget, Mid-Year Review and Year-End Report online in a timely manner and improve the comprehensiveness of the Audit Report and Enacted Budget.
Fiji’s Ministry of Economy has established pre-budget deliberations during budget formulation but, to further strengthen public participation in the budget process, should also prioritize piloting mechanisms to monitor budget implementation and sustain direct engagement with vulnerable and underrepresented communities during pre-budget deliberations. The Fiji Parliament should prioritize allowing any member of the public or any civil society organization to testify during its hearings on the budget proposal prior to its approval and allow members of the public or civil society organizations to testify during its hearings on the Audit Report. Fiji’s office of the Auditor General should prioritize establishing formal mechanisms for the public to contribute to relevant audit investigations.
On Budget Oversight, Fiji’s Parliament provides weak oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and weak oversight during the implementation stage. To improve, the Legislature should debate budget policy before the Executive Budget Proposal (EBP) is tabled and approve recommendations for the upcoming budget. The EBP should be submitted to legislators at least two months before the start of the budget year and Legislative Committees should examine the EBP and publish reports with their analysis online. To strengthen independence and improve audit oversight by the Fiji Office of the Auditor General, require legislative or judicial approval to appoint and remove the head of the supreme audit institution.
The latest survey round assessed only documents published and events, activities or developments that took place through 31 December 2020. The survey is based on a questionnaire completed in each country by an independent budget researcher. The questionnaire was reviewed by an anonymous independent expert and in Fiji by a representative of the Ministry of Economy.
“The government budget decisions on what taxes to levy, what services to provide and how much debt to take on have consequences on the people of Fiji. When the government provides information and meaningful channels for the public to engage in decisions, we can better ensure public money is spent on public interests,” said Ms. Lagilevu.
About Open Budget Survey
The Open Budget Survey is the world’s only independent, comparative, and fact-based research instrument that uses internationally accepted criteria to assess public access to central government budget information; formal opportunities for the public to participate in the national budget process; and the role of budget oversight institutions, such as legislatures and national audit offices, in the budget process.
For further information on the IBP and the OBS visit: