Purpose / Problem / Opportunity
Budget transparency is a worthy goal for a number of reasons. Increasing information and transparency around the budgeting process has been shown to contribute to opening up communication across government towards enhanced data sharing and faster and more effective communication. Increasing transparency through the provision of more accessible data also has positive implications for citizen trust and participation in the formal economy, citizen empowerment and engagement, as well as improved governance and financial management.
These are worthy indicators for countries such as Jamaica where governance in the independence period has been defined by informality, low trust, insufficient levels of accountability among public officials, a largely disengaged citizenry, as well as lack of transparency around government spending and financial mismanagement.
Project Scope / Description
Through the support of FRIDA the current project aims to assess the potential for the use of open data principles and international best practices in participatory budgeting to affect budget governance and life cycle processes in Jamaica. This towards greater civic engagement and government transparency. The study proposes to build on the emerging open data capabilities in the Caribbean while positioning the MSBM and UWI as key players in the growing discourse and practice on open data and open budgeting.
This will be done through the:
• Benchmarking of the current budget governance process in Jamaica using select indicators from the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Initiative;
• Use of the Open Spending platform to publish budget and expenditure data in an open format through collaboration with the Ministry of Finance & Planning and the Ministry of Education;
• Implementation of a participatory budget pilot in August Town, the University of the West Indies or. The Constituency Development Fund or Education will be the functional domain for the pilot;
• Demonstration of the potential of open data for improved financial management, transparency and civic engagement in Jamaica.