Experts Explored the Opportunities to Increase Citizens’ Participation in Budget Process

September 22, 2022
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

30 August 2022, Tashkent. UNDP and the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan came together to organize an International Forum. The event served as a platform to discuss citizens’ engagement in budget processes, explore international best practices and opportunities to implement them for expansion of participatory budgeting (PB) and strengthening inclusiveness of this process in Uzbekistan.

The Forum brought together International experts, representatives of the Ministry of Finance and its territorial departments, deputies of local Kengashes, specialists from ministries and departments involved in the process of implementing PB, researchers and teachers of higher educational institutions, as well as active citizens who have taken part in PB.

Akhadbek Khaydarov, Deputy Minister of Finance, Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan, Roberto Herrera, UN-HABITAT expert and Asad Esanov, professor at New York University delivered their remarks at the event’s first panel session.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Akhadbek Khaydarov highlighted, that the global experience has shown that the traditional budget system does not allow to completely solve the problems of the communities. Therefore, in the last 10 years, implementation of the projects engaging citizens in distribution of the part of the state budget has been intensified. In our republic, the first steps towards this direction were taken in 2018, and in 2021 PB started its active development.

Recent measures, which included updating the functionality of the ‘Open Budget’ portal, the creation of a “Voice Chat” on social networks with the participation of journalists and bloggers, helped to engage more citizens to the PB. “Thus, summing up the first cycle of PB conducted this year, citizens submitted more than 69,000 project proposals and 6,700,000 citizens voted for the projects. According to the voting results, 2,354 projects were recognized as winners, for which 1.2 trillion soums were allocated from the district and city budgets,” said Akhadbek Khaydarov.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

In her speech, Matilda Dimovska noted that UNDP is pleased to be a part of these achievements. “We believe that a transparent fiscal system is an essential part and enabler of improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public resources. Evidence indicates that countries that have worked for strong “budget transparency” coupled with participatory mechanisms are more likely to respond to people’s needs in ways that will improve their lives,” she added.

The next session was dedicated to the presentation and discussion of international experience. The speakers provided information about the dynamics of the development of PB in the world, its role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and Georgia's experience in increasing transparency and achieving good results in the framework of the Open Budget Index, and also speakers demonstrated the best PB practices in selected countries of Europe and the CIS and provided recommendations for Uzbekistan.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

During the final session, the speakers presented the features of the introduction and development of PB in Uzbekistan, highlighted the problems at different stages of the PB implementation and discussed their possible solutions.

This Forum served as a good platform for discussion and exchange of experience, providing an opportunity to present Uzbekistan’s experience in the implementation of PB, to learn best practices in terms of involving citizens in the budget process, and determine the prospects for expanding the PB in Uzbekistan.