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Dede Krishnadianty, Budget Credibility Program Officer for Indonesia and
Olaniyi Olaleye, Budget Credibility Program Officer for Nigeria


Governments continue to face unprecedented challenges managing their budgets and providing people services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries with low incomes especially are struggling with increased spending needs and the risk of decreasing revenues. This makes it more important than ever that governments adequately budget for the needs they have and address implementation bottlenecks, waste or other issues that lead too many governments to deviate from their intended budgets during execution. Such fiscal turbulence and economic disruption can undermine budget credibility – whether a government actually spends according to the approved budget - and with it, public trust in how governments spend scarce public resources.

IBP recently conducted a global rapid assessment of how governments have managed COVID funds, and we undertook more in-depth assessments in Ghana, Kenya, Indonesia, Nigeria and Senegal to understand how this affects budget credibility. In Nigeria, we looked at available data to identify gaps in COVID-19 fiscal policy announcements and related spending in the federal government and Anambra State. In Indonesia, we reviewed government data at the national level to collect information around COVID-19 allocations and spending. In both countries, we found that pandemic spending had budget credibility challenges, with governments deviating from planned spending, under-delivering on relief packages and experiencing limitations in clearly reporting budget information related to planning and expenditures. For example, despite a sizable surplus at the end of 2020, Anambra state in Nigeria only managed to implement 20 percent of their pandemic budget. At the federal level in Nigeria, while a system for reporting COVID spending in the national budget data portal was developed, there was persistent downtime starting in mid-2020, resulting in little-to-no information on the implementation of COVID spending. Similarly, in Indonesia, we revealed a need for detailed information on the analysis and planning that led to COVID fiscal policies and a centralized reporting platform for COVID spending to improve communication. A recent government audit report confirmed our findings and we will be establishing regular meetings with the audit institution to promote more participatory audits. 

Our goal was not just to assess how governments fared, but to generate lessons on how governments can respond better, both to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and to future ones. We’ve held widely attended multi-stakeholder events to share our findings and recommendations with accountability actors, including civil society and government officials, to improve the transparency and accountability of COVID spending. We're encouraged by initial responses to our recommendations such as an intended launch of a centralized website that will focus on COVID-19 budgeting by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance. In Nigeria, we’ve held conversations with key stakeholders to understand and resolve the functional issues of the COVID-19 national budget data portal to get it back up and running.

Our findings and recommendations have been published online and we will continue to share our research with diverse actors at future events. We’ll also continue to raise public awareness around COVID spending and work to identify the causes, consequences, and opportunities for improving budget credibility challenges. As governments look ahead to COVID recovery and vaccination campaigns, it will be even more critical that governments meet their budgetary promises to support communities and build back better.


Each month, we shine a spotlight on partners who are using budget advocacy to bring transformational change to their communities. This month, we talked with Iniobong Usen, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at BudgIT Foundation, IBP’s civil society partner in Nigeria on the COVID-19 budget credibility research. Read the full interview.

  • IBP is working with partners in Ghana, Kenya, Indonesia, Nigeria and Senegal to investigate the impact of COVID-related fiscal measures on budget credibility challenges. The first published investigations are from GhanaIndonesia and Nigeria. We hope they will raise awareness of transparency and accountability gaps in tracking COVID-related spending and guide public engagement efforts with government officials and civil society actors.  

  • On IBP’s Open Budgets Blog (cross-posted by the Open Government Partnership), Paolo de Renzio writes about the need for an open debate on what accountability standards should be used to assess country performance in managing public finances during times of crisis. 

  • Our latest report, “Managing COVID Funds: the Accountability Gap,” has received global media coverage, including: 
    • In Peru’s El Comercio, Caroline Gibu, Executive Director of IBP partner Ciudadanos al Día (CAD), uses the context of the report to call on the Peruvian government to improve budget transparency and implement greater mechanisms for citizen participation and monitoring. (Article is in Spanish

    • An article in The Nepalese Voice recaps the discussion at the virtual event held on the findings for Nepal. 

    • Our Australian partner at the Tax and Transfer Policy Institute explores the country’s results on the COVID study, including updates on what the Australian government has done recently to address some of their gaps. 

  • An article in Tribuna de Periodistas focuses on a recent discussion hosted by Argentinian partner Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ) – which featured IBP’s Alex Ciconello – on taxes and the mining sector in Argentina. (Article is in Spanish

  • The Nation reports on the resolve of our partner female farmers in Nigeria to support themselves and their families and a New Telegraph article talks about the effects of climate change on the women. 

  • An Azeri article talks about the importance of public oversight and the Open Budget Survey. 

  • blog from Integrity Action introduced two pieces of research on what makes frontline duty-bearers act with integrity and when citizens identify problems with public service delivery, how they are solved. In addition to full reports and summaries of these papers, Integrity Action also developed an interactive quiz as a new way for readers to understand and engage with this research. 

  • BudgIT in Nigeria, along with Connected Development and Global Integrity, have launched the COVID-19 Transparency and Accountability Project (CTAP) website that is committed to tracking all resources committed to African countries for COVID-19, with a focus on seven core countries: Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Malawi, Cameroon, and Kenya. 

  • The SDG16+ civil society toolkit – published by the TAP Network – is an up-to-date resource guide on approaches, practical steps, and key resources for national-level advocacy efforts to advance SDG16. 

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