Fiscal Transparency in Times of Emergency: COVID-19

COVID-19: The role of fiscal transparency

March 2020 has forever marked our lives. These past weeks have been among some of the most turbulent, unsettling and emotional that many of us can remember in our lifetimes. We have been very concerned about the sick and deeply saddened by those who have lost their lives. We are extremely proud of all those on the front lines of the fight, helping the sick recover and slowing the spread of the epidemic. For the rest of us, it is clear that acting together, with empathy, coordination, commitment and collaboration has never been so crucial. And from our trench, there is a lot that we can, and ought, to do.
The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has been felt by individuals and families, governments and communities, companies and institutions, around the world. For a network such as GIFT, integrated by budget authorities, civil society organizations, expert agencies and international financial institutions, the impact and the responsibility are also of great importance. In the majority of countries, the fiscal and budgetary efforts to control the epidemic and to revive development have dimensions never before seen. These are actions that are absolutely necessary and justified. But decision-making and approval need balance, plurality and open discussions, and implementation requires adequate monitoring and accountability mechanisms. These are public resources; this is people's money. And the cost of failing is enormous: lives are at stake, poverty levels will be impacted, for better or worse, and the risks of marginalization, helplessness and social polarization, due to waste and corruption, are greater than ever.
For all of these reasons, transparency is of utmost importance in the fiscal responses to the pandemic. And public participation is indispensable for successful implementation. In the era of digitalization and open data, people confinement cannot lead to increased government opacity and unaccountable authorities. Pandemic mitigation cannot be a pretext for government opacity, impunity, shrinkage of civic space, repression, violations of human rights and authoritarianism. Institutional checks and balances, democratic mechanisms and free press, must be nurtured and strengthened by transparency and citizen empowerment.
The roles of international financial institutions, ministries of finance and civil society organizations, convinced and committed to fiscal transparency, such as the GIFT stewards, are paramount to avoid disaster. We have seen how catastrophic the results of stimulus packages and mayor financial bail outs can be in the absence of transparency and without citizen engagement. We cannot afford to mess up the management of either the fight against the pandemic or the fight against economic collapse.

Извор: Fiscal Transparency – 04.2020