On September 12, the U.S. Department of State released the 2017 Fiscal Transparency Report. This report reviews 141 governments worldwide and assesses whether those governments have made complete and reliable budget information widely and easily accessible to their citizens. While budget documents may not seem like a sensational topic, they are a critical part of a functioning democracy. When governments embrace fiscal transparency, they foster greater public engagement and encourage discussion on budget matters by bringing ordinary citizens into the process. Fiscal transparency also helps strengthen the effectiveness of U.S. overseas development programs.
This is the sixth year that the Department of State has produced an annual reportdedicated to fiscal transparency, and we have noticed four trends that defy common perceptions. With the release of this report, we’d like to push back against these myths:
Myth 1: Only high-income countries meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency → FALSE
A government doesn’t need to be rich to be open and honest with its citizens about how it raises and spends money. In fact, of the 73 countries that met the minimum requirements, only 20 are ranked as high-income. The rest are either low-income or middle-income. This shows that a country’s income is not a determining factor in its ability to meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency.