Donor pressure for budget reform in Africa was often met with official dishonesty, case studies in eight countries have found.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia May 1 Sapa
DONOR PRESSURE FOR BUDGET REFORM ‘OFTEN MET WITH DISHONESTY’
Donor pressure for budget reform in Africa was often met with official dishonesty, case studies in eight countries have found. The studies found attempts by donors to impose a predetermined ceiling (or ‘acceptable level’) of military expenditure on national governments -with little regard for their security concerns) – led to two unintended consequences: the deliberate manipulation of military expenditure figures and resort to off-budget spending.
This as further compounded by a lack of realism in many places in planning and revenue projection.
“A common characteristic of most governments in Africa is the lack of financial discipline, especially in relation to security expenditure, the studies, shortly to be published as a book, found.
The studies, conducted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the African Security Dialogue and Research institute of Ghana and Ethiopia’s InterAfrica Group, found that owing to a lack of policy, comprehensiveness and realism at the formulation stage of the budget, governments often found it difficult to adhere to budget allocations made at the beginning of the year.
“Since they seek to protect the military budget, in case of any shortfall in projected revenue or an urgent security crisis, this often results in either the raiding of the other sectors’ budget or extra-budgetary expenditure,” a summary of the studies found.
The studies’ authors argued that issues such as diversion of resources for defence purposes and the proper balance between expenditure on security and development were already part of the disarmament discourse in the developing world as far back as the 1970s.
“These issues merely returned to the centre stage from the late 1980s as a result of widespread conflict on the continent, the phenomenon of failed states, the international financial institutions’ (the Word Bank and the International Monetary Fund) public expenditure management reforms and bilateral donors’ concerns about how the economic assistance they offered poor states was used.”
The guiding principle, the study found, was that defence should not be treated any differently from the other parts of the public sector.
“While aspects of the military sector certainly do require some form of confidentiality, this should not confer it with any special status in terms of resource allocation, transparency, accountability and oversight. Indeed, the … military is no different from the other sectors of the state and should therefore be subjected to the same standards, rules and practices.”
These include comprehensiveness, predictability, honesty in resource allocation and estimation, discipline in spending, transparency of the budget process, and accountability.