According to the OBI 2012 survey conducted among 100 nations worldwide published on Thursday, Vietnam is one of the 36 countries with the lowest rankings. The country is still far behind Indonesia with 62 points, the Philippines with 50 points, and Thailand with 36 points.

The Center for Development and Integration (CDI), a non-governmental organization in Vietnam chosen for the survey, said the draft State budget of Vietnam had not been revealed to the public before it was passed by the National Assembly (NA).

Meanwhile, 79 other countries among the 100 surveyed have publicized their draft budgets following the guideline of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on financial transparency issued in 2007. IMF’s guideline says that citizens must be allowed to join public hearings at the NA before the NA passes the budget.

From next Monday to Wednesday, a conference will take place in Indonesia, the incumbent ASEAN co-chair, to announce the results of the regional nations and seek solutions to boost budget transparency, management efficiency and citizens’ accessibility to the issues regarding the government budget. A deputy minister of finance of Vietnam will attend this conference.

OBI has been published every two years since 2006, when Vietnam got a mere three points. Its score rose to ten points in 2008, 14 points in 2010 and 19 points in 2012, but the country remains at the bottom of the index.

Ta Thanh Thuy from CDI told the Daily that Vietnam would advance further in the international commitments on transparency if strictly observing the regulations on budget transparency.

Article 69 of the 1992 Constitution recognizes citizens’ right to information, and Article 13 of the State Budget Law stipulates that estimates, settlements and audit results of the central and local budgets must be publicized. Other laws such as the Anti-Corruption Law warrant transparent disclosure, Thuy remarked.

She said: “If the ministries involved in the budget planning stick to these laws, the draft budget should be unveiled to the public, so citizens could discuss and give their opinions to the NA before the NA passes the budget every year.”

OBI 2012 is conducted by the U.S.-based non-governmental organizations International Budget Partnership (IBP) and Open Government Partnership (OGP).

By Tu Hoang - The Saigon Times Daily - February 24, 2013