The results of the international survey that was conducted by the International Budget Partnership, an international non-profit organization concerned with evaluating disclosure and transparency of general budgets worldwide, presented in its 2019 report that the Kingdom has advanced 18 ranks within the Open Budget Index compared to the previous survey, after scoring 18 points compared to one point in the previous survey conducted in 2017. The results of the survey reflected recent efforts exerted by the government of the Kingdom to enhance transparency and disclosure in public finance.
On this occasion, Dr. Saad Alshahrani, Deputy Minister for Macro-Fiscal Policies, indicated importance of this achievement that the Kingdom managed to realize within a short period of time and confirmed that with this progress, we aspire in the future to achieve a higher ranking that reflects efforts made in the framework of improving the quality of fiscal data and enhancing the level of transparency and disclosure thereof, which is one of the important tracks pursued by the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – under the Kingdom's Vision 2030. The Ministry of Finance sought to develop its fiscal systems, provide the greatest possible amount of information about its fiscal policy, disclose its fiscal and economic data and publish relevant periodic reports to inform specialists, analysts and citizens in a timely manner. This also allows the private sector and investors to plan ahead and make informed decisions.
Dr. Alshahrani stated that the survey results show that the Kingdom has achieved a big jump in the budget transparency survey, and reflect the evolution in the availability of information and data in a detailed and periodic manner to the public, while providing clear analysis as required by the benchmarks set in the survey. He added that the Budget Forum held annually by the Ministry is an effective way to enhance communication and an important channel for identifying the best ways to develop the budget preparation process. He also said that this forum underscores the importance of partnership between different government agencies to share challenges in preparing the budget and mechanisms to achieve the goals. The forum is considered a successful initiative to inform the public finance stakeholders on the various projects of the Ministry of Finance and related programs, and to provide training opportunities according to the highest international standards.
The Deputy Minister of Macro-Fiscal Policies has pointed out that behind the this jump in the Kingdom’s score were several concrete measures to enhance transparency. Since the launch of the Kingdom's Vision 2030, the Ministry has introduced many reports and has continuously developed its content on an annual basis according to best practices. The reports address a broad base of specialized recipients and the general public inside and outside the Kingdom. In 2017, the Ministry issued the first detailed budget statement, quarterly (periodic) reports for the budget performance, the citizen’s budget, in addition to the publication of its medium-term fiscal framework. During the past two years, the Ministry began periodically publishing the pre-budget statement and year-end report on its website.
Dr. Alshahrani explained that transparency is one of the important aspects of concern to international financial and investment institutions, impacting their investment decisions and is usually reflected in their reports. He added that, in the past year, the Kingdom’s government joined the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) adopted by the International Monetary Fund, as well as implemented the Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) initiative on the national data page, making the Kingdom the first among the G20 countries adopting SDDS and to apply SDMX. The general government coverage was also introduced in the presentation of fiscal data for the first time in the past year. Also, the National Fiscal and Economic Data Page was created on the website of the Ministry of Finance with the participation of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority and the General Authority for Statistics. All of these measures contributed to a material and unprecedented shift in the levels of disclosure and transparency in the Kingdom, leading to an enhanced position on various international indicators and contributing to supporting domestic and foreign investment, as well as the credit rating of the Kingdom.
The Open Budget Index (OBI) is an important global tool, independently prepared every two years to assess the transparency of government budgets around the world. Countries covered by the open budget survey are ranked according to their scores in the survey. The seventh edition of the survey was conducted in 2019 and its results were published today (covering performance FY 2017 & 2018), and included an assessment of 117 countries. The last report issued in 2018 covered performance until 2016.