Budget Transparency and TurkeyEmrullah Aydın, Murat Şeker
Transparency is one of the indispensable elements of democracy. The concept of budget transparency, which began to be discussed more commonly during the 2000s, refers to the openness of all public sector activities to provide information about how they generate income and spend these incomes. The most important regulation to ensure budget transparency in Turkey is the Public Financial Management and Control Law No. 5018. Along with the ongoing increase in the importance of budget transparency, there have also been considerable efforts to monitor budget transparency. In our study, we examine the current situation in Turkey’s budget transparency within the framework of the 2019 results of the Open Budget Survey conducted by the International Budget Partnership. According to this survey, Turkey is a country that offers its citizens only limited information on budget transparency. The publication of the Citizens Budget in 2017 contributed to Turkey’s budget transparency score in the relevant year compared to previous years. In contrast, the score, which fell again in 2019, shows that Turkey still has a long way to go to ensure full budget transparency.
Bütçe Şeffaflığı ve TürkiyeEmrullah Aydın, Murat Şeker
Şeffaflık, demokrasinin vazgeçilmez unsurlarından biridir. Özellikle 2000’li yıllardan sonra daha fazla tartışılmaya başlanan bütçe şeffaflığı kavramı ise kamu kesiminin gelir elde etmeye ve bu gelirleri harcamaya yönelik tüm faaliyetlerinin açıklığını ifade etmektedir. Türkiye’de bütçe şeffaflığını sağlamaya yönelik en önemli düzenleme 5018 Sayılı Kamu Mali Yönetim ve Kontrol Kanunu’dur. Bütçe şeffaflığının önemindeki artışla birlikte bütçe şeffaflığını izlemeye yönelik çalışmalarda da artış meydana gelmiştir. Çalışmamızda, Uluslararası Bütçe Ortaklığı kuruluşu tarafından yayımlanan Açık Bütçe Endeksi’nin 2019 yılı sonuçları çerçevesinde Türkiye’nin bütçe şeffaflığındaki mevcut durum incelenmiştir. Buna göre; Türkiye bütçe şeffaflığı konusunda sınırlı bilgi sunan ülke konumundadır. 2017 yılında Vatandaş Bütçesi’nin yayımlanmaya başlaması, Türkiye’nin bütçe şeffaflığı skorunun ilgili yılda geçmiş yıllara göre artışına katkı sağlamıştır. Buna karşılık 2019 yılında tekrar düşüşe geçen skor, Türkiye’nin bütçe şeffaflığını tam anlamıyla sağlayabilmesi için kat etmesi gereken uzun bir yol olduğunu göstermektedir.
Budgets are political texts instrumental in the implementation of government policies and for holding the status of a law approved by the legislature. Simultaneously, budgets are an instrument of economic policy because of their effects on economic activities. Budgets are the way political parties fulfill their promises to maximize their votes. Voters, who reveal their political preferences through voting, want to know how governments spend their public revenues. The acceleration of the democratization process increases the demand for transparency in public decision-making processes. That demand brings the concept of budget transparency to the fore. The expansion in the scope of the economic activities of the public sector is another factor that highlights the importance of budget transparency.
Transparency and accountability are concepts that interact with each other. The transparency of the budgetary process is essential because it makes the state accountable to society. Simultaneously, budget transparency is necessary to avoid the asymmetric information problem and prevent corruption. Additionally, the public’s participation in the budgeting process is essential. Such participation by the public will increase the demand for transparency and accountability. This study aims to examine the situation of budget transparency in the world in general and Turkey specifically within the framework of current research. Based on this study, the paper will put forward suggestions for increasing budget transparency. In this context, the results of the Open Budget Survey, implemented by the International Budget Partnership organization in cooperation with local nongovernmental organizations, were analyzed and evaluated.
The economic problems caused by insufficient budget transparency and the increasing perception of corruption have caused the level of budget transparency to be questioned in Turkey and many other countries. In response to these developments, especially since the beginning of the 2000s, Turkey’s efforts to increase budget transparency have started to rise. As the result of these efforts, the Public Financial Management and Control Law No. 5018, an essential reform in public financial management and budget transparency, emerged in 2003.
Soon after the beginning of this century, with the increasing importance of budgetary transparency, studies on how to ensure and monitor budget transparency have increased. According to the 2019 results of the Open Budget Survey conducted by the International Budget Partnership in cooperation with the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) since 2006, Turkey is a country that provides limited information on budget transparency. According to the relevant results, Turkey’s budget transparency score is 51. This score is 7 points lower than that from the previous survey period, 2017. The publication of the Citizen Budget Guide was effective in increasing Turkey’s budget transparency score in 2017. However, the continuation of the change in the institutional structure brought about by the new governmental system may have been influential in the decline in 2019. Additionally, the global average budget transparency score in 2019 was 45.
In addition to budget transparency, the Open Budget Survey measures budget oversight and the public’s participation in the budget process. Since there is no public participation in the budget process in Turkey, the relevant score of Turkey is 0, according to the 2019 survey. However, according to the 2019 survey, the budget oversight score is 56. This score demonstrates that the Turkish Court of Accounts’ control over the budget is limited. The ability to audit and overall authority of the Turkish Court of Accounts over both the central and local government budgets should be increased to ensure full budgetary transparency.
Finally, the authors anticipate that the increase in budget transparency will also increase the public’s overall trust in and the predictability of public institutions. Any increase in budgetary transparency will indirectly contribute to economic stability and improve the quality of economic decisions. Successively, the political authorities will decide at the final stage the extent to which there will be any budget transparency. Political authorities may use the limited transparency of the budget as a choice to prevent the budget processes from being questioned. This situation causes efforts to increase budget transparency to be beneficial to the extent that political authorities allow.