Serbia is among the countries that have not adopted packages of urgent economic and fiscal measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic in a sufficiently transparent manner, the results of the Washington-based International Budget Partnership (IBP) survey have shown – Transparency Serbia says.
None of the 120 countries observed, according to the standards of the IBP methodology, showed ‘essential transparency’ in the adoption and implementation of pandemic measures, and only four countries were adequately open to the budget process (Australia, Norway, Peru and the Philippines); 29 countries had some elements of openness, while 56 countries, including Serbia, showed ‘limited transparency’. As many as 31 countries had ‘minimal openness’ in their budgetary response to the pandemic.
A study on the transparency of emergency measures conducted by the IBP, found that there are widespread weaknesses in the transparency and oversight of emergency measures around the world, which amounted to $14 trillion in 2020 alone. The organization warns that it is crucial for governments to work responsibly and transparently because the huge budgetary expenditures to combat the effects of the pandemic have long-term consequences for their public finances and citizens.
In Serbia, the subject of the analysis was a package of fiscal and economic measures implemented from March to September 2020. The assessment of ‘limited transparency’ refers to the adoption of measures, supervision of their implementation and control, as well as spending money and monitoring the effects and results of the implemented measures.
Serbia was rated poorly in terms of publishing information on public procurements, aid beneficiaries and the effects of implemented measures, citizen participation, and the fact that no independent reviews of aid programmes were conducted. On the other hand, the only good assessment relates to the publication of macroeconomic data and the budget as a whole.
The IBP survey found that more than two-thirds of countries did not manage their emergency assistance packages responsibly and that almost half did not conduct public procurements in a transparent manner. Furthermore, in almost half of the countries, crisis aid packages were not decided by parliaments, but only by governments. Only 1/4 of the countries published review reports on the implemented measures.