Statement by Ms. Matilda Dimovska, UNDP Resident Representative in Uzbekistan at the International forum on “Citizen Engagement in the Budgetary Process: Exchange of Experiences and Prospects for Development”

August 30, 2022
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Assalomu aleykum! Hurmatli Janob Akhadbek Khaydarov, Deputy Minister of Finance, Distinguished panelists, Dear colleagues,

Sizlarni kelayotgan Mustaqillik bayrami bilan tabriklayman!
(I congratulate you with upcoming Independence Day)

Thank you to all colleagues, partners for participating in this international forum on “Citizen Engagement in the Budgetary Process:
Exchange of Experiences and Prospects for Development”

Special thanks to the Ministry of Finance for organizing this event.

Increasing transparency of the Government of Uzbekistan and Citizens Budget

In recent years the Government of Uzbekistan has been undertaking significant steps towards reforming the public financial management system and making the budgetary process more transparent, accountable, and efficient.

UNDP has been privileged to be part of this process, particularly to support the efforts for increased transparency and access to information for citizens and businesses, in all spheres of public affairs.

Citizens Involvement and Participatory budgeting

First, I would like to praise once again the Government’s effort to actively involve the civil society into the budgetary process and to congratulate the Ministry of Finance with successful piloting and full-scale introduction of participatory and initiative budgeting in Uzbekistan.

The results mentioned by the deputy minister and achieved during the piloting stage and this year are very good. Behind these numbers are active citizens who, through their own initiatives, have been able to solve infrastructural challenges in their communities, making their and the lives of their neighbours better and more comfortable.

We are very glad to be a part of these and ready to further support it.

Why it is important?

Participatory budgeting allows the entire community to participate and collectively decide through a democratic process how to invest a portion of the local budget. 

Evidence shows that active involvement of citizens into the budgetary process helps better address their needs, strengthens public oversight over budgetary resources, increases accountability of public authorities and ensures participation of citizens in decision-making process.

Further, participatory budgeting has several additional social benefits for both citizens and the state. For example, participatory budgeting contributes to a dialogue between the population and authorities and helps identify and solve the most acute social problemsat local level, which are not always obvious to officials.

How UNDP supports the Government?

UNDP experts supported the Ministry in developing a methodology and choosing the participatory budgeting model for Uzbekistan, based on the analysis of international best practice in this area. 

We helped the Ministry to improve the “Open Budget” portal, which now allows thousands of citizens to easily submit their proposals, participate in discussions and vote for the best projects. 

For active participation of citizens at local level, UNDP also supported an awareness-raising campaign for the citizens and a series of training sessions for specialists from the territorial departments of the Ministry of Finance.

Aspects that should be taken into consideration towards the further development and expanding the participatory budgeting in Uzbekistan.

To build on the achievements, there is room for more and stronger involvement of citizens. 

  • First, it is also important to improve budget literacy and thus empower citizens to participate in all stages of the budget process. The system is more efficient when communities understand the importance of not just submitting proposals, but also discussing them, and insisting on public control.
  • Second, it is also important to strengthen the role of civil society in monitoring the implementation of projects funded through participatory budgeting as well as to make them more inclusive, by active involvement of women, youth, vulnerable segments of the population and other marginalized groups. 
  • Third, scaling up participatory budgeting best practices depends largely on available funding. Many additional sources of funding could be leveraged to co-finance citizen initiatives, such as crowdfunding, diaspora funding, corporate philanthropy, etc. 

Needless to stress, that all these options shall be carefully explored and introduced, if feasible and publicly acceptable.

Thanks & Conclusion

We strongly believe that the Government is on the right track in making the budgetary process more inclusive and transparent. And would like to assure that UNDP will continue supporting the Government in its journey.

Once again - my sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Finance for organizing this event and look forward to continuing our fruitful cooperation in future.

I hope that at today’s Forum we will exchange views, knowledge, and experience as well as discuss potential challenges for introduction of new forms and practices of participatory budgeting in Uzbekistan.

I wish to the Event participants an interesting and fruitful discussion.

Etiboringiz uchun rahmat! (Thank you for your attention!)