UNDP Supports Media Learning Course on Budgeting

08 Apr 2012

Kabul, Afghanistan: Twenty journalists from Afghanistan working in leading media organizations in Kabul, Afghanistan participated in the one day interactive learning course event titled 'Know Your Budget'. The course was organized in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and UNDP Making Budgets and Aid Work Project. The course covered subjects such as preparation of national budget, its relevance and implication at national level, how the budget addresses priorities that will benefit the people of Afghanistan and measures to promote sound Public Financial Management.

Opening the workshop, the Director General for Budget, Mr. Ahmad Jalali dwelt on the importance of involving the media in the budget preparation and execution process. He noted that experience had shown that the media had a crucial role to play to promote transparency and dialogue by focusing public attention on government spending and performance towards achieving development goals. He noted that media organizations and journalists could use budget analysis and advocacy as a tool to improve effective governance and reduce poverty by providing wider coverage on this issue. He said the public had a right to comprehensive, timely, and useful information on how the government manages public funds. "When ordinary people have the information, skills and opportunities to participate in such processes, there are notable improvements in governance and poverty reduction", Mr Jalali observed.

The Ministry of Finance and its Budget Department encourages the coordination, involvement and participation of media journalists in important fiscal discussions through such forums and training workshops.

The journalists were handed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) booklet titled 'Know Your Budget' that explains in simple language the budget formulation process through 10 questions. The booklet was prepared with technical assistance from the MBAW Project. In addition, MBAW Project experts providing technical support to MoF Budget Units, gave presentations on Fiscal Challenges, Risk and Transparency, Budget Reforms introduced and achievements made by the MoF. One can learn more about these presentation by clicking on the learning link below.

At the end of the course, H.E Mr. Omar Zakhilwal, Minister of Finance provided certificates signed by him to the participating journalists.

This event gains relevance especially in the backdrop of the Open Budget Index (OBI) survey that Afghanistan is a part of to ensure fiscal transparency and accountability by encouraging easy access to the National Budget through public forums. Over the last two years Afghanistan has made impressive progress in its fiscal and budget transparency. This progress was recognized by the Open Budget Index (OBI) which compares the fiscal transparency of 94 different countries around the world. Afghanistan has improved its rating from 8 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2010 and is likely to jump to 30 percent in 2012.

The MBAW Project supports MoF to ensure that these documents are prepared well and in a timely manner and also made accessible to the public on a regular basis. The project supports the idea that fiscal transparency, a key OBI indicator, allows for better-informed debate by both policymakers and the public about the design and results of fiscal policy, and establishes accountability for its implementation. In strengthening credibility and public understanding of macroeconomic policies and choices, fiscal transparency fosters more favorable access to domestic and international capital markets.