PRETORIA– South Africa and New Zealand share the top spot in the recently released Open Budget Index (OBI) survey which assesses the availability of eight key budget documents in each of the 115 countries evaluated, and considers the comprehensiveness of data in these documents.

South Africa’s efforts to deepen transparency in budget processes have been recognized internationally. In the 2017 Open Budget Index (OBI) survey, out of 115 countries, South Africa has been ranked first, a position shared with New Zealand, said the National Treasury here Wednesday.

The survey also examines the extent of effective oversight provided by legislatures, the independent fiscal institutions and the supreme audit institutions, and the opportunities available to the public to participate in national budget processes.

In the 2017 OBI, South Africa achieved a score of 89 out of 100 in terms of transparency, an improvement from a score of 86 achieved in 2015.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba applauded this achievement and said South Africans should be proud of this achievement which entrenches its reputation as a global leader. This is evidenced by the expansive budget information that is published for public analysis and scrutiny, he said.

South Africa has consistently been rated among the top three in the OBI rankings since it held the first position in the 2010 Open Budget Index. The rating of second in 2012 and third in 2015 coincided with a change in the OBI survey scoring which placed increased emphasis on budget participation.

Being mindful that South Africa does produce detailed and quality budget information, but cognizant that this information is not used as extensively by the public as we would like, the emphasis of the National Treasury’s budget reform agenda since 2014 has been on seeking to elicit public participation regarding the national budget.

The Treasury said the challenge now is for South Africans — parliamentarians, the media, civil society and the general public — to use the information published in the budget documents more effectively.