Malawi ranks poorly on budget transparency


Malawi has been ranked among countries that have performed poorly in the Open Budget Survey 2017.

According to results of the survey, many governments around the world are making less information available on how they raise and spend public money.

The Open Budget Survey assesses budget transparency based on the amount and timeliness of budget information governments are making publicly available. Each country is given a score of between 0 and 100 that determines its ranking on the Open Budget Index.


After 10 years of steady progress by countries, the 2017 survey shows a modest decline in average global budget transparency scores, from 45 in 2015 to 43 in 2017 for the 102 countries that were surveyed in both rounds.

According to the report, declines in budget transparency were most dramatic in sub-Saharan Africa, where the average budget transparency scores fell by 11 points between 2015 and 2017.

Malawi is among those poorly ranked, managing a score of 26 points out of the available 100 scores.


The Open Budget Survey was launched in 2006 and is considered the world’s only independent, comparative assessment of the three pillars of public budget accountability; transparency, oversight and public participation.

The sixth round of this biennial assessment, the 2017 survey evaluated 115 countries across six continents, adding 13 new countries to the survey since the last round in 2015.

The report looks at transparency from the perspective of public availability of key budget documents and from the perspective of the comprehensiveness of the information they contain.

Among others, Malawi was categorised among countries that are not effective in producing budget audit reports, with year-end reports produced either late or not published at all.

The only available document, according to the survey, was the Executive’s Budget Proposal.

In contrast, over the 2008 to 2015 period, budget transparency gains in sub-Saharan Africa substantially exceeded those of the rest of the world, as the region made positive gains in every survey.

The report, issued this week, rates the survey results as “particularly disappointing”.

“An important driver of this year’s deceleration is the reversal of previous gains in sub-Saharan Africa,” the report says.

It, however, says that while sub-Saharan Africa showed the largest decline in transparency in this round, the region drove much of the improvements in transparency in the 2015 survey.

This, according to the report, points to a broader and deeper concern highlighted earlier, which is a lack of institutionalisation of open government practices.

As in previous rounds of the survey, the OBS 2017 once showed that most countries are not sufficiently transparent to ensure that budgets are allocated in accordance with public priorities or monitored adequately during implementation to deliver on government promises.

“It is particularly worrying, then, when governments seem to be regressing from already modest or low transparency scores,” reads the report in part.

It, however, states that the recent decline in transparency overall is significantly less than the gains found in previous rounds of the survey; that is, government budgets are still considerably more transparent today than they were a decade ago.

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