Tax officers and payers at the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Taxation (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s Open Budget Index (OBI) has not been substantially improved but is ready to be changed, Joel Friedman, a senior fellow at the International Budget Partnership (IBP), said at a workshop revealing the index on January 14.

According to the IBP report, Vietnam’s 2015 OBI score is 18 out of 100, almost unchanged compared to the 2012 index (19 points).

The country’s budget oversight by the legislature and auditor scores respectively 61 and 75 out of 100, which are considered adequate. However, public participation in the budget process remains limited, the Open Budget Survey found.

The IBP said since 2012, the Vietnamese Government has improved budget transparency by publishing budget documents and increasing the comprehensiveness of quarterly reports. Notably, it issued the first-ever budget book in 2015.

Though Vietnam has publicised five of the eight important budget documents, the draft budget has not been unveiled, audit reports have been published much slower than the global standard, while many of the revealed documents lack important details.

The country’s OBI is in the bottom group, consisting of 17 countries which provided the public with scant or no budget information. It is also much lower than many regional nations such as Indonesia (59/100), Malaysia (46), Thailand (42) and, especially, the Philippines (62).

The IBP recommends Vietnam p ublish the executive’s budget proposal when the draft budget is presented to the National Assembly; publish an audit report in a timely manner, ideally within six months and no later than 18 months after the end of the budget year; and produce and publish a mid-year review.

The country should also enhance the public’s engagement in the budget processes by establishing a specialised budget research office for the legislature, the IBP said.

The Open Budget Survey is an initiative aiming to promote budget transparency. It is conducted by the IBP and independent social organisations in over 100 countries.-VNA