Egypt’s Finance Minister Mohamed Maait (photo: Al-Ahram)
Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait announced Thursday that Egypt’s ranking has improved cumulatively by 27 percentage points (pp) in the international Open Budget Index over 2017 and 2019, up from 16 pp in 2015.
The improvement advanced Egypt’s ranking in the index to 61st place out of 117 countries covered, up from 65th place in the 2017 edition.
The report also showed that the sub-index of budget supervision also notably improved, recording 50pp, up from 39pp in 2017.
The Open Budget Index is the world’s only independent, comparative measure that tracks government budget transparency. Countries covered by the Open Budget Survey are given a transparency score between 0 and 100, which the International Budget Partnership (IBP) uses to construct the index, ranking assessed countries.
IBP is a global research and advocacy program that aims to promote public access to budget information and the adoption of accountable budget systems.
In a statement, Maait clarified that Egypt surpassed the MENA region average, ranking second equal with Morocco. He added that Egypt’s community engagement has risen by 4 pp to reach 15 pp out of 100pp, up from 11 pp in 2017, exceeding the global average and surpassing Jordan and Morocco.
Maait attributed Egypt’s improvement to the finance ministry’s efforts aimed at providing simplified information about the state’s public budget to citizens. He added that the improvement also reflects the ministry’s willingness to provide adequate advance data about Egypt’s fiscal and tax policies, which help in stimulating investment.
Deputy minister for financial policies and corporate improvement Ahmed Kojok said that the finance ministry had established a fiscal transparency and community engagement unit, the first of its kind, to sustain Egypt’s improvement in the index and to entrench the concepts of transparency and disclosure.
Head of the unit Sara Eid said the ministry has worked hard over the past five years to upgrade transparency practices and to build bridges between all concerned parties. She added that the unit released a version of the semi-annual financial performance report for citizens for the first time, in addition to releasing a preliminary draft budget to enhance transparency and public financial reform.
Eid added that the ministry has launched an interactive website to give citizens an opportunity to record their opinions and find data and relevant reports.
The FY 2020/21 draft budget, announced earlier this month, includes a package of procedures that aims to secure Egypt’s fiscal and economic status and to implement its fiscal reform policy that focuses on reducing the public debt to GDP ratio to 82.8 percent.