Citizens’ participation in the budgetary and financial processes is aimed at ensuring good governance, provision of public goods and general accountability1. There are three fundamental reasons behind the attempts to increase citizens’ participation in the matters of governance and policy-making.
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First, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are increasingly calling for the participation of the stakeholders in political matters and policy-making decisions. Citizens are clamouring for access to information and the right to participate in local and national matters.
In addition, the current democratic processes demand for open governance, transparency in policy decisions and open budgetary processes2.
Second, reformist lawmakers and government officials, seeking to approve the authenticity and capability of the civil society in solving social-political and economic challenges, are increasingly supporting citizens’ participation. This is driven by both political and policy incentives.
Direct subject support can give extra authenticity to help reformist governments modify budgetary needs3. Besides, coordinate investment guarantees a steady stream of data between the state agencies, natives and common society, hence lessens the cost of exchanging data.4.
Reformist governments also advance participatory venues in light of the fact that this helps them to assemble a political base that may be actuated amid constituent procedures5.
Last but not least, direct participation can help the policymakers monitor strategy execution at the local level, consequently improving the probability that government’s strategy changes are actualized accurately.
By involving citizens in the budgetary processes both at the local and national level, the government can enhance its capacity due to extra mechanism to improve accountability6.
Third, global organizations, for instance, the IMF and World Bank have been advocating for increased participation of citizens in policy decisions and budgetary processes. The main reason for this is to enhance the government’s capacity, which is progressively perceived to be essential in achieving long term goals and objectives.
Direct citizen participation enhances state capacity by improving the quality of inputs at the same time letting citizens to play the role of a watchdog. Worldwide associations also support direct native investment as a method of engaging the common man and creating a compact social capital.
The global organizations believe that citizens and civil societies can hold the government accountable for the use of public resources, hence ensuring that donor funds are used for the intended purpose7.
An ongoing concept that cuts across these organizations is that they are looking for ways of designing institutions that can bring the citizens together in order to take part in solving key policy issues and governance challenges.
Institutional planners have made an expansive scope of rules and strategies that address an array of societal and policy issues. In each case, they are trying everything possible to ensure that the government and citizens work together for a common good8.
The citizen’s participation is highly regarded not because there are benefits linked to their full participation in the local and national matters, but it is supported because their increased participation can enhance the nature of governance and the general welfare of the people.
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For that reason, direct engagement of citizens is the best way of solving key policy issues and governance challenges9.
Enhancing the quality of engagement is progressively entangled with attempts to advance straightforwardness in the working of governments and private sector. Transparency call for public officials to give prompt and relevant information that can be utilized by citizens and civil society10.
In any case, transparency endeavours need to be connected to participation on the ground since the release of information is simply the initial step11. Direct participation is crucial since it guarantees a high level of transparency.
In addition, it ensures that the criteria of choosing pertinent data and the schedule of its release are not left to the discretion of public officers. More extensively, collaboration is imperative so that the accessible data can be used to make elective arrangements and strategies.
After all, lack of access to vital information in the context of disinterested or detached citizens and civil society will not bring about progressed government approaches and policy solutions12.
Natives and common society represent the interest side of policy deliberation. Hence, they give elective answers to approach issues. The other side is represented by policies initiated by the government and international donors aimed at solving policy challenges.
The demand and supply sides are models that were adapted to fit into the field of socioeconomic development. Therefore, in the wider scope of this essay, transparency will be conceptualized as what the regime needs to provide or avail to improve accountability.
On the other hand, participation will be conceptualized as the activities that the citizens and civil society need to take part in so as to improve accountability13.
Improved accountability calls for greater collaboration between state agencies, government officials, civil society and the general public. State authorities must be ready to permit their activities to be investigated by non-governmental organizations and civil society.
Correspondingly, citizens and civil society must be prepared to dedicate their time and vitality to meticulously inspect the exercises of state.14. Accountability can be established when state departments and agencies are ready to be investigated to win public trust or gain a political mileage.
In addition, governments may be ready to support transparency in those ranges where they accept that accountability would be politically beneficial, which implies that the public and civil society should put more pressure on the government to avail all the necessary information15.
This essay will have two fundamental objectives. The first objective is to introduce a framework that can help to understand how citizens and civil society can participate in the budgetary process and other financial initiatives.
The explanation behind presenting this framework is that it will explore diverse courses through which citizens and civil societies are integrated into key government decisions. The second objective is to apply it on the two countries to show how and why they have embraced diverse establishments and strategies.
The second objective will attempt to establish the reasons and objectives behind the initiatives.
Citizens participate in a mixed bag of institutions. In law based administrations, citizens vote to choose delegates at neighbourhood, territorial, and national levels. Citizens might likewise vote in unique decisions, for example, submissions, plebiscites or reviews.
In addition, citizens may influence elected leaders by operating within certain establishments or engaging in activities such as campaigns, arranging appeal drives, and coming up with certain policy propositions. Therefore, participation is a progressing action in which residents work together to advance their interests16.
As a matter of fact, there are numerous ways through which citizens can influence formal arrangements. They can make use of the institutions, court procedures and public protests to place their case on government officials.
Petulant legislative issues have a tendency to be utilized more regularly by citizens who need access to open establishments or lack political representatives17.
There are four principal aspects of the citizen participation process, namely: voice, scrutiny, voting and rescission. Besides the mentioned participatory venues, citizens can also utilize other venues such as, opinion through the ballot, controversial politics, campaigns and neighbourhood initiatives18.
However, our emphasis will be on the ways through which citizens take part in budgetary accountability. This is represented by the four principal aspects of citizens’ participation.
Voice refers to the capacity of citizens to communicate their thoughts, inclinations, and sentiments within and outside the institutions sanctioned by the government. At the highest level, citizens and civil societies can use this facet of participation to extend the scope of issues that are being tended to by the existing institutions.
The issue can touch on specific policy problem. Public debates are some of the venues that can be used by citizens to express their voice. The formal gatherings permit citizens and civil societies to fortify their arrangements, as well as be incorporated in the prescribed networks19.
On the other hand, scrutiny is the capacity of citizens to audit archives and data given by government institutions and agencies. These archives may incorporate policy proposals, contract negotiations, income accumulation, progressive execution of open work tasks, and project conclusion20.
Citizens are required to have fundamental skills necessary for analysing and reporting the data provided by the government. When the citizens have the necessary skills to dissect government policies, their voice may be more focused and agenda-driven.
The scrutiny procedure enables citizens to link up with the government and its partners on specific issues touching on government recommendations21.
In some cases, citizens are given liberty to vote for government policy proposals. The votes can either be binding or consultative. A binding vote can either rebuff or approve policy proposals and, therefore, is the most powerful form of vote. A binding vote provides execution powers.
On the contrary, a consultative vote is simply an opinion over the general proposed policy. It does not warrant a direct action. However, it can have a considerable impact on policy decisions, especially when the voting process is sanctioned by the government.
Both binding and consultative vote calls for an establishment that can help in building residents’ voice and verifying techniques. Citizens and civil societies can be able to practice more robust, and informed voting only when the aforementioned condition is met22.
Citizens and civil society can have the power to rescind government proposals, annual reports and audit reports. This power is a kind of vote, yet is different on the grounds that citizens and civil society are not voting in favour of particular strategy recommendations, but are dismissing government projects and operations.
This is like the presidential veto, where the head of state can rebuff enactment of particular laws or policies. This kind of power clearly expands on voice and scrutiny. Citizens and civil society can make more use of this power to comprehend government policy proposals or activities.
Veto power and voice can be useful in generating support both within and outside the public domain23.
In entirety, the four aspects of participation offer a means to evaluate how public institutions engage citizens and civil societies in the budgetary and fiscal processes. Citizens and civil societies have different powers in these institutions. Sometimes, citizens have the power to articulate their views and concerns, which is a vital development.
In other cases, citizens are more involved in the implementation and monitoring process, which is likewise an imperative development. The four aspects of participation are the best examples of how the government, citizens and civil society interact or engage each other in matters of public interest24.
The Civil Society
The civil society is normally comprised of ordinary citizens, community heads, institutions that represent the people, professionals from different fields, socio-political movements, and non-administrative associations among others. These groups are very different from government officials.
They have diverse forms of authority, which is associated with their expertise and moral basis of their claims25. A standout amongst the most widely recognized political inquiries in participatory foundations is “who are the genuine representatives of civil society?”.
There is no simple answer to this question due to the diverse nature of civil society. Governments planning to create new institutions for engaging citizens need to place this question at the beginning of every dialogue as they create new establishments.
As the administration tries to fabricate new establishments, it must address the following issues that have been with us since time immemorial: Should choices be in light of the tenet of the lion’s share? In what manner can the enthusiasm of the minorities, be dealt with? Should engagement be in light of individual or gathering premise?
What are the essential skills required in order to participate in the decision-making process? When should the participating institutions concede to the opinions of experts or leaders? Do citizens have the power to sanction or reject government initiatives? Assuming this is the case, do these powers have a limit?
Common citizens are most likely to be included in decisions made at local or sub-national level due to their broad knowledge of local affairs, but limited skills. They can help public officials make informed decisions when allocating local resources.
Some of the initiatives sanctioned by the government to expand citizen participation include annual budget conference and communal projects. The mobilization can be done by community heads26.
At the national level, more emphasis is placed on individuals with legal or technical expertise. As a result, these individuals are always involved directly in the budget implementation and monitoring process. They can participate in the budgetary process in two ways.
First, they can take part in the local discussions, but their proposals and interests are transferred to the national summit. Second, they can articulate their ideas and interests in extremely wide terms, enabling them to be supportive of the general arrangement.
Nevertheless, there can be a huge difference in the sort of voice exercised by citizens, from voting on the choice of particular items to general items that are of priority.
The civil society and organizations representing the will and interests of the people normally take part directly in national-level policies and budget talks. Individual citizens are less likely to take part in national-level debates, but can take part in countrywide processes27.
Many regimes now engage nationals in policy decisions. To understand how governments engage their citizens in policy decisions, we will carry out a case study of two countries. In this case, the two nations are Brazil and Philippines.
The selection of the two cases has turned out to be very fruitful since the two nations are currently using a wide range of programs to enhance transparency, involvement and accountability.
It is important to note that Brazil and Philippines are on the excellent path of reform, and this will help in comprehending the conceivable outcomes and parameters of progress.
There are a number of significant similarities among the two nations that will be of great help in explaining why the two governments are increasing citizen participation and encouraging transparency. Each of them had a tyrant administration from 1960s to 1980s.
They swung to law based governance in the late 1980s and have remained so until now. Moreover, the two nations have seen the resurrection of non-state actors, proclamation of the new constitution and advancement of devolution.
Brazil: Citizen Participation in the Budgetary Accountability
Major reforms in Brazil started with President Cradoso who expanded Brazil’s capacity to promote transparency and accountability through mass participation. He began by building institutions, privatising state-owned companies and demanding a thorough clean up in the public sector.
He also introduced the fiscal responsibility law, which provided a framework of spending government resources and mechanism for guaranteeing budgetary transparency28.
In the past three decades, the country has expanded a number of participatory venues, which allows citizens to take part in an array of policymaking decisions. There are four fundamental institutions that permit citizens to take part in the budgetary process.
These institutions include Public Policy Management Councils (PPMCs), Public Policy Conferences (PPC), Pluriannual Budget Planning (PBP), and Participatory Budgeting (PB). PPMC, PPC and PBP are embraced from the local to national level. However, PB is only adopted at the municipal level29.
Participatory budgeting is a year-long process that brings together municipal official and citizens to decide over capital spending on the current and future projects. PB has been adopted by numerous municipalities and participants are mainly volunteers.
The table below demonstrates PB programs between 1989 and 2012 in municipalities with over 50 thousand inhabitants. Over 50 percent of the PB cases were managed by workers unions, which highlight the role of politics in the adoption of PB. As a matter of fact, PB has attracted very many youths into political positions30.
As already been mentioned, PPMCs are established at all levels of the government. Currently, the country has approximately 70000 councils at the district level. Generally, the council’s top seats are shared equally between the state and non-state actors.
The council has the power to sanction or reject the budgetary process through a vote and, therefore, it has the veto power. Truth be told, PPMCs is being utilized as a condition by the administration for disbursing national resources. 31. The table below shows the explosion of PPMCS in the last decades.
The increase in the number of councils is mainly attributed to the federal government that had made it mandatory for all public institutions and organizations to have a management council. However, some public institutions and organizations adopted it voluntarily32.
Pluriannual Budget Planning (PBP) is a national level budgetary planning process introduced by President Lula da Silva. This was after a number of reports showed that the country had heavily invested in sub-national level programs and was lacking in national-level programs.
Pluriannual Budget Planning, which is conducted yearly, was premised on the PPMCs’ model. The ministry of planning is tasked with the responsibility of providing all the pertinent data. It comprises of representatives from different sectors, including the civil society, private sector and state officials.
The participants are directly involved in the budgetary process. However, there is no information accessible to recommend that the arrangements are actualized by the government33.
Public Policy Conferences (PPC) also known as the national policy conferences attract millions of participants. In the last 75 conferences, it has attracted more than 8 million participants. These conferences have given millions of Brazilians a platform to participate in the policymaking decisions.
These conferences focus on a wide range of subjects, including transparency and social control, federal budgetary processes, human rights and many more. Nevertheless, the country’s expansive federal states make it very hard to establish the level of transparency and accountability in the public sector.
However, the country‘s emphasis is to incorporate as many citizens in the budgetary accountability and transparency programs34.
Philippines: Citizen Participation in the Budgetary Accountability
Philippine is one of the countries with the greatest devotion in advancing citizen participation and transparency. The current president’s campaign platform was to stop corruption and destitution. By associating corruption to all the problems facing the country, he drew attention to all the fundamental subjects of governance.
Therefore, the core agenda of the current regime is tackling corruption, especially in the public sector. Importantly, the core elements of enhancing the quality of governance include direct engagement and giving more power to the citizens.
Besides eliminating corruption in the public sector, the country’s reform agenda include establishments of new institutions that will generate new prospects to alter the pattern of public expenditure and ensure transparency and accountability35.
Due to lack of high level state capacity and pervasive civil society as witnessed in Brazil, the Philippines used a diverse participatory strategy. They are less likely to adopt citizen-based strategies used in Brazil due to the disintegration of its social fabric and low capacity of its citizens.
As a result, they are mixing citizen-based strategies, usually at the sub-national level, with extensive engagement of civil societies36.
The deliberate efforts of the Philippines government to increase citizens’ participation in the budgetary process and ensure accountability in the public sector include National Fund for Participatory Governance, Base-Up Budgeting, Budget Partnership Accord, Complete Disclosure Strategy, and Citizen Engagement Review37.
Base-Up Budgeting was borrowed from Latin America. It involves engaging rural community movements and individual citizens in determining funds to be allocated at the local level. This leads to the creation of a local poverty reduction team to implement and monitor funded projects.
The team comprises of the communal chiefs, state representatives and common organizations. Base-Up approach targets poor communities. As of 2013, more than 1100 poor municipal communities had adopted the approach with the government allocating in excess of $190 million for the projects38.
Budget Partnership Accord brings together agencies and the civil society in the preparation of the budget. This allows the government and the civil society to work closely in identifying priority projects.
The civil society is also involved in the implementation process. Base-Up Budgeting and Budget Partnership Accord have been commended by the international community as the best methods of empowering citizens39.
National Fund is a stipend given by the Treasury to non-state actors to bolster cooperation of subjects and the administration in national matters. As a result, the civil society acts as intermediate finance managers40.
On the other hand, Complete Disclosure Strategy is a reward system exemplifying all facets of accountability and transparency at the local government units. It requires full disclosure of information to the public.
In order to advance this, the administration has dispatched an online entry where all the administrative data can be accessed by the citizens. 41. To wrap things up, the Citizen Engagement Review is an institutional body that unites intrigued nationals and state authorities.
This body enhances access to government information necessary for the implementation and evaluation of the budget process42.
Comparing and evaluating the two cases
The programs aimed at increasing citizens’ participation in governance and accountability in the Philippines have created two changes. First, more citizens are joining state-approved institutions to play some part in governance and decision making.
Second, the government has increased the number participatory institutions to promote citizen’s participation in the local and national affairs, particularly in the budgeting and fiscal processes.
However, in comparison to Brazil, Philippine is still lagging behind with respect to structural foundations that support citizens’ participation and accountability. This means the country is more likely to make significant policy changes in the near future.
The disparity is attributed to the fact that the Brazil’s reform process started like three decades ago, whereas the Philippines process has only lasted a decade. In addition, Philippines lack high level state capacity and pervasive civil society.
Lastly, the country is less reliant on experts owing to the fact that the government’s main agenda is citizen empowerment. As a result, it employs mixed strategies that incorporate citizens at the sub-national level and civil societies at the highest level.
From the analysis of the two countries, it is apparent that four facets affect citizen’s participation in the budgetary process. The first factor is the political will of the existing regime. The second factor is the organization of the civil society. The third factor is the state’s capacity. The last factor is the path of policy reforms.
Citizens and the civil society can either support or challenge government decisions. As a result, citizens and civil society can work together with the government, but also hold it to account for public resources. The citizen participation process is based on four principal aspects, namely: voice, scrutiny, voting and rescission.
The Brazilian process incorporates all the four aspects. However, the Philippines do not have the veto power. Nevertheless, whatever the methodology utilized, the fundamental target is to expand resident support and enhance straightforwardness and responsibility.
The participatory initiatives in Brazil and Philippines are mainly driven by politics and reform agenda. Even though non-state actors have played a role in pushing the two governments to expand citizen participation, there is no evidence to suggest that they have been pushed by international organizations.
Alt, J. E. & Lassen, D., ‘Transparency, Political Polarization, and Political Budget Cycles in OECD Countries’, American Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, no. 3, 2006, pp. 530–50.
Avritzer, L., Democracy and the Public Space in Latin America, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2002.
Carltz, R., Improving Transparency and Accountability in the Budget Process: An Assessment of Recent Initiatives, University of California, Los Angeles, 2013.
de Renzio, P. & Masud, H., ‘Measuring and Promoting Budget Transparency: The Open Budget Index as a Research and Advocacy Tool’, Governance, vol. 24, no. 3, 2011, pp. 607–16.
de Renzio, P. & Angemi, D., ‘Comrades or Culprits? Donor Engagement and Budget Transparency in Aid-Dependent Countries’, Public Administration and Development, vol. 32, no. 2, 2011, pp.167–80.
Ferraz, C. & Finan, F., ‘Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil’s Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol.123, no. 2, 2012, pp. 703–45.
Fung, A., Mary, G. & David, W., Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Gianpaolo, B., Heller, P. & Silva, M., Bootstrapping Democracy: Transforming Local Governance and Civil Society in Brazil, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011.
Hunter, W., ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly: The Workers’ Party in Brazil’, World Politics, vol. 59, 2007, pp.440–75.
IMF, Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency, International Monetary Fund, Washington, 2007.
Magno, F., Country Report: The Philippines, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, 2013.
McNulty, S., Voice and Vote: Decentralization and Participation in Post-Fujimori Peru, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011.
Montero, A. P. & David, J.S., Decentralization and Democracy in Latin America, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, 2004.
Wampler, B., Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation, and Accountability, Pennsylvania State University Press, Pennsylvania, 2007.
Wampler, B., Participation, Transparency and Accountability, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, 2013.
1 J. E. Alt & D. Lassen, ‘Transparency, Political Polarization, and Political Budget Cycles in OECD Countries’, American Journal of Political Science, vol. 50, no. 3, 2006, p. 531.
2 B. Gianpaolo, P. Heller & M. Silva, Bootstrapping Democracy: Transforming Local Governance and Civil Society in Brazil, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011, p. 5.
3 R. Carltz, Improving Transparency and Accountability in the Budget Process: An Assessment of Recent Initiatives, University of California, Los Angeles, 2013, p. 28.
4 Carltz, p. 32.
5 Alt & Lassen, p. 541.
6 P. de Renzio & H. Masud, ‘Measuring and Promoting Budget Transparency: The Open Budget Index as a Research and Advocacy Tool’, Governance, vol. 24, no. 3, 2011, p. 609.
7 P. de Renzio & D. Angemi, ‘Comrades or Culprits? Donor Engagement and Budget Transparency in Aid-Dependent Countries’, Public Administration and Development, vol. 32, no. 2, 2012, pp.170.
8 IMF, Code of Good Practices on Fiscal Transparency, International Monetary Fund, Washington, 2007, p. 13.
9 B. Wampler, Participation, Transparency and Accountability, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, 2013, p. 98.
10 L. Avritzer, Democracy and the Public Space in Latin America, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2002, p.11.
12 Carltz, p. 35.
14C. Ferraz & F. Finan, Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil’s Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol.123, no. 2, 2008, p. 707.
15 W. Hunter, ‘The Normalization of an Anomaly: The Workers’ Party in Brazil’, World Politics, vol. 59, 2007, p.453.
16 A.P. Montero & J.S. David, Decentralization and Democracy in Latin America, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Press, 2004, p.7.
17 B. Wampler, Participation, Transparency and Accountability, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, 2013, p. 102.
18 S. McNulty, Voice and Vote: Decentralization and Participation in Post-Fujimori Peru, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2011, p.6.
19 McNulty, p. 8.
21 McNulty, p. 9.
23 B.Wampler, Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation, and Accountability, State University Press, Pennsylvania, 2007, p. 28.
24 Wampler, p.30.
25 Gianpaolo, Heller & Silva, p. 7.
27 Gianpaolo, Heller & Silva, p. 10.
28 B. Wampler, Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Contestation, Cooperation, and Accountability, State University Press, Pennsylvania, 2007, p. 19.
29 Wampler, p. 20.
30 Wampler, p. 21.
31 Gianpaolo, Heller & Silva, p. 65.
32 Gianpaolo, Heller & Silva, p. 67.
33 Wampler, p. 106.
34 Wampler, p. 107.
35 F. Magno, Country Report: The Philippines, Global Initiative for Fiscal Transparency, 2013, p. 3.
36 Magno, p. 4.
37 Wampler, p. 113.
38 Wampler, p. 114.
39 Magno, p. 4.
40 Wampler, p. 115.
41 A. Fung, Mary & David, Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency, Cambridge University Press, 2007, p. 7.
42 Wampler, p. 116.