14, November, 2011

Improving Policy Impact in Latin America Through the Budget

Latin American countries are at the forefront of pushing through innovative budget reforms to improve policy impact. From results-based budgets, to transparency portals, to participatory budgeting, Latin America's experience is useful for any country seeking to improve the impact of public spending.

In the last few decades, Latin American (LA) governments have implemented innovative budget reforms to improve public spending and the overall impact of public policies. LA’s reforms sought four main objectives: enhance efficiency and effectiveness of spending; incorporate citizen participation in the budget process; increase transparency and control over public spending; and use the budget as a tool to advance rights and equality. An important part of the LA story is that, alongside these government reforms, strong civil society organizations (CSOs) emerged to demand greater accountability, transparency, and participation in the budget process. This guide presents an overview to LA’s budget reform experience, emphasizing contextual factors enabling the design and implementation of these reforms and on outcomes and lessons learned.

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Key Lessons:

  • Budget transformations require long-term institutional and legal reforms, as well as changes in budgeting culture and sufficient political will.
  • A strong civil society willing and able to participate in the budget process is necessary to promote accountability, enhance transparency, and ensure that spending reflects social priorities and needs.
  • LA shows that the effort to implement budget reforms pays off with improved transparency, citizen participation, and oversight, and overall with better efficiency and impact of public spending.

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