For the first time the levels of budget transparency in Spain have been evaluated as part of the Open Budget Index, a ranking of the levels of access to information and participation in budgeting in 94 countries worldwide. The research was conducted by Access Info Europe and the International Budget Partnership, a Washington-based organisation.
“The lack of opportunities for participation in the budget-making process in Spain is one of the factors creating a gulf between the government and the public that is contributing to social discontent in this time of severe economic crisis,” commented Carlos Cordero, member of Access Info Europe’s Executive Board.
The main findings for Spain are:
• A failure by the Executive to publish a Pre-Budget Statement, a Citizen’s Budget, and Mid-Year Reviews;
• Lack of consultations with public or civil society or independent experts by either the Executive or the Legislature;
• Weak powers for the Legislature which does not approve changes to the budget during the fiscal year;
• Absence of timely reports by the Audit Authority (Tribunal de Cuentas) on the final spending of national Government Departments
• Lack of information from the Tribunal de Cuentas on how the Executive is following its recommendations.
The International Budget Partnership and Access Info recommend that Spain should:
• publish its Pre-Budget Statement;
• produce and publish a Citizen’s Budget and a Mid-Year Review;
• improve the comprehensiveness of the In-Year Reports and the Audit Report;
• provide opportunities for the public to attend legislative hearings on the budget;
• increase the powers of the Legislature and Tribunal de Cuentas to provide more comprehensive oversight of the budget.