Vorotina N. Ensuring the openness of the budget system as an important area of financial decentralization in Ukraine
The budget system is very important for any country in the world. A short time ago, the system was too centralized and closed in Ukraine. Despite the fact that one of the principles of the budgetary system, as defined in the Budget Code of Ukraine, is the principle of publicity and transparency, until recently it had a declarative character and lacked a substantial legal basis. Important legislative actions have been taken in Ukraine since 2014 in order to practically implement this principle in the budget legislation. This has taken place mainly due to the victory of the Revolution of Dignity and initiation of the process of decentralization of power, and financial decentralization has become an important component of this process.
Recently, up-to-date legal mechanisms have been already implemented in Ukrainian legislation, are functioning in practice and confirm a significant increase in the level of transparency of the budget system. They include the creation and operation of a government portal on the use of public funds and “E-Data” project, introduction of openness in public procurement, making information available to general public, which are important factors in preventing corruption in the budget area.
Ukraine has made some progress towards ensuring transparency of the budget system. Ukraine’s score is 54 points out of 100, which is well above the global average score of 42 points. Ukraine has improved the level of access to budget-related information by implementing the following measures: publication of community budgets; increased amount of information presented in a budget proposal of the executive power; enhanced quality of an audit report.
The introduction of an electronic declaration by persons authorized to perform functions of the state and local self-government has become one more important step towards ensuring public control over budget funds. It enables both the general public and law enforcement agencies to make conclusions on legality of assets of this category of persons and their possible involvement in embezzlement of public funds. The mentioned legislative innovations open up new possibilities for bringing these persons to a legal responsibility.
Transparency of the budget system can not be reduced to just informing the civil society about issues related to the budget process. Taking into account the global best practices, it is necessary to implement the idea of an active participation of citizens in the budget process in Ukrainian legislation and ensure its practical realization in contrast to a passive participation (just perception of an open information). This means openness of state and local self-government bodies involved in the budget process to the public and taking into account proposals of the civil society. It should be noted that in order to achieve the above goals, amendments must be made not only to the Budget Code, but to a number of other legislative acts.
And finally, it should be emphasized that an increased level of transparency of Ukraine’s budget system will inevitably lead to a gradual eradication of corruption, which is one of the most important problems of our state and society. And although this process can be quite lengthy and difficult, it is undeniable that the process has been launched (given the introduction of legislative innovations), and this gives us grounds for a cautious optimism.
Key words: openness of the budget system, financial decentralization, open budget