The Fiji Times published this story on Friday Feburary 2, 2018.
By Solomone Rabulu
THE Open Budget Survey (OBS) is the only independent, comparative, regular measure of public budget transparency and accountability, says Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) CEO Sara Bulutani.
Mr Bulutani said one of the main components of the OBS was the budget oversight which examined the role that legislators, supreme audit institutions and independent fiscal institutions played in the budget process and the extent to which they were able to provide effective oversight of the budget.
“The idea of OBS is that it measures whether our government produces and makes publicly available online and in a timely manner eight key budget documents recommended by international good practices,” Mr Bulutani said.
“These surveys are produced by independent civil society budget experts around the world who are not beholden to any national government.
“It also examined formal oversight institutions and opportunities for public participation in national budget decision making.”
Mr Bulutani said Fiji’s score of 15 over 100 in the latest survey reflected that the legislature provided a weak oversight during the planning stage of the budget cycle and no oversight during the implementation stage of the budget cycle.
“To make budget oversight more effective in Fiji, it should be ensured that legislative committees examine and publish reports on their analysis of the executive budget proposal online,” he said.
“In practice, the legislature should be consulted before funds are shifted between administrative units away from what is specified in the enacted budget during the budget year, the spending of any unanticipated revenue and reducing spending due to revenue shortfalls.”