Dissemination Workshop on Open Budget Survey (OBS) and Website Launching

The NGO Forum on Cambodia organized a dissemination workshop on Open Budget Survey (OBS) and website launching which was held on 25 August 2020 at Raffle Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The launching was attended by key stakeholders including Development Partners (DPs), CSOs/NGOs, Youths, academia, and researchers total 54 (26 women). The objectives of the launching were: 1) disseminate the OBS 2019 findings and recommendations for Cambodia 2) share Key findings on a Legal and Policy Framework Review on Public Participation in Public Financial Management in Cambodia and 3) increase the dissemination of Budget information through presses and other media.

Welcome remarks by Dr. TEK Vannara, the Executive Director of the NGOF, started by thanked EU’s representative Mr. Javier, Ms. Lim Solinn, and all participants who participated in that day. He shared with participants the purposes of the event. The result of OBS will be presented by Ms. Sally, a program officer of the International Budget Workshop. He stated that so far the NGO Forum has worked closely with IBP and joint peer review by the Ministry of Economic and Finance (MoEF). Dr. Vannara has also remarked on the significant changes related to promoting the participation, however, the score related to budget oversight was slightly decreased, second related to result finding on legal policy framework review on public participation in Public Financial Management (PFM) in Cambodia and the third is about website launching. Dr.Vannara has also thanked all BWG members both in national and sub-national who always have a strong effort and support each other to improve transparency and accountability. Last the event aimed to share related to the National Cambodian Budget website, Dr. Vannara encouraged all stakeholders could access. It is a good website; stakeholders could access important documents from this website.

There was a presentation of Ms. Sally, a program officer for Asia through a video conference lived from the USA, a presentation on the resulting key finding on a Legal and Policy Framework Review on Public Participation in Public Financial Management in Cambodia, presentation on the next quarterly plan and national Cambodian budget website.

Mr. Javier thanked all participants, especially the NGOF, EU has supported the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) for more than 5 five years. He expressed and gave value to the event as a very important event, especially the OBS, which could promote transparency and accountability in Cambodia. He elaborated on the historic background of the score of OBS from 2015 which the trend has a positive change. The documents have been shared by MoEF on time, and we can access it from MEF’s website. He also congratulated the NGOF who has worked on this important thing.

He shared about the value of transparency, and he thought that if the people do not know meaning the budget preparation is not transparency.

Keynote and Open remarks by Ms. Lim Solinn, Oxfam Executive Director, she started by thanked for EU, a representative from IBP, community representative, NGOs. She said that the event on that day was a good result. She shared the commitment from Oxfam to support and build capacity for NGOF and its members. The commitment from Oxfam is still keeping to support both technical and support on poverty reduction, inequality, genders, inclusive fiscal policy, and participation by all the stakeholders. Oxfam still prioritizes vulnerable people especially the extremely poor and poor households, vulnerable women, and children. She valued three sectors to be most priorities including health, education, and social protection. She raised a social protection sector which she thought that it is playing a crucial in the current context of Cambodia, in particular related to the people who were impacted by the covid-19 pandemic. She greatly thanked the RGC that provides a cash transfer which is very beneficial to the target beneficiaries, especially for the people who work in providing services. Therefore, cash transfer is very important, this could not happen if the government is not well managed. However, she suggested that we need to keep going on, including collect revenues and expenditure.

Ms. Sally, Program Officer of IBP, she thanked NGO Forum and Oxfam, and she also shared about the IBP’s work in the global and regions as well as an overview of OBS. It’s an assessment tool measures three aspects of open budgets: transparency of how public resources are raised and spent, opportunities for participation in budget policy decisions, and oversight by independent legislatures and audit institutions. She had also raised about the methodology of OBS which process needs an 18-month research process, the questionnaire based on international standards, a strong review framework, and consistency check by researchers, government, and anonymous. 117 countries have been conducted in an OBS survey. Ms. Sally has also shared about the OBS in Cambodia, she mentioned that the Asia region, and ASEAN countries, in particular, has a strong improvement in budget transparency in OBS 2019. This continues a trend seen in the region for over a decade. Many countries in the region are now reaching a score of 61 and higher, which is the OBS benchmark for providing sufficient levels of budget information. Cambodia also has seen impressive progress since the last round of the OBS – increasing by 12 points to a score of 32 out of 100. Cambodia also reached an important milestone in publishing the eight key budget documents that are assessed in the OBS for the first time. This includes the Summary of the Executive’s Budget Proposal, which is one of the most important documents assessed in the OBS and accounts for nearly half of the questions in the transparency assessment. This is because this document is normally the most detailed budget document that provides information about how policies and proposals are translated into budget decisions – including how revenues are raised and details about where money will be spent, as well as information that provides context to these decisions, such as information about government borrow and debt, fiscal risks and performance measures for public spending. Most countries produce detailed supporting documents with the IBP that provides this information, however, these supporting documents are not available in Cambodia. Publishing these supporting documents would greatly strengthen budget transparency. IBP has a lot of resources online

Mr. Ouk Vannara shared a presentation on the Cambodian National Budget Website which all the audience could access through www.cambodianbudget.org. He shared the content of the website has useful information on the budget database, the law on public finance system, law on the sub-national fascial regime and property management and law on auditing…etc.

Dr. Tek Vannara thanked all the stakeholders who attended the events and encouraged the participants to access the documents on the National Cambodian Budget website. The launching of the dissemination has been finished based on the schedule set with a fruitful result, the participants gained more knowledge on the Open Budget Survey, research finding on the legal framework on Public Financial Management and knowledge management data of Cambodian National Budget website.

There were media journalists attention and cover the new, these are bellow links posted by media:
• Reaksmey Kampuchea: https://bit.ly/32KaOsA
• Phnom Penh Post: https://bit.ly/2EC7Iip
• PNNTV: https://bit.ly/35p7qWA
• RFI: https://bit.ly/2DhVt9P
• FM102: https://bit.ly/33KJVFs