Tbilisi, Georgia. December 2019.
Europe Foundation and the Ministry of Finance of Georgia.
In the past years, Georgia has had a clear interest and mandate to improve budget transparency in the country. The country has gone from 55 points score (out of 100) in the Open Budget Survey of 2012 to 82 points in 2017. The country now ranks among only five other countries considered to provide extensive budget information of the 115 countries assessed. Yet, when it comes to user-centered fiscal transparency and public participation opportunities in the budget cycle, there are still challenges ahead that civil society and government would like to overcome.
In this enabling context, the Europe Foundation, a local civil society organization with previous experience in supporting the participation of groups with disabilities at the local level, reached out to the GIFT network. Their intention was clear and straightforward: to support the development of public participation mechanisms in the country, following the GIFT Principles on Public Participation in Fiscal Policy, as well as the examples gathered by the network in the Guide of Public Participation Mechanisms. As such, during a public event in December 2019, they presented the translation of the Public Participation Principles into Georgian, signaling the start of the work towards establishing a collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and strengthening the required capacities of other civil society organizations.
During the event, GIFT Stewards and partners from the government and civil society of South Africa and Uruguay showcased examples of public participation, budget literacy and digital tools for fiscal transparency, and afterwards we had a chance for peer-exchange with the public officials of the Ministry of Finance involved, as well as with civil society groups.
Along these lines, the Ministry of Finance has launched efforts to introduce public engagement in the budget process, including the presentation (December 24th) of the Budget Transparency and Engagement System, an electronic platform that enables all interested parties to get acquainted with state budget information, key country priorities, state budget programs, and plan their own budget. Through this system, the inputs provided by the users will go directly to the public officials of the budget department.
We will keep you posted about the continued collaboration to design and implement public participation mechanisms in Georgia, seeking to improve budget allocations and policy design for a sustainable development that leaves no one behind!