Africa Fiscal Transparency – Nigeria

Civilian rule was established in Nigeria in 1999, after 30 years of military dictatorship. The budget system requires fundamental reform in order to bring about real transparency and accountability.

The research in this report was conducted by Soji Apampa and Tunde Oni. Both work with Integrity, a Nigerian civil society organisation advocating the protection and promotion of human rights against corruption.

The End of Insurance? Mexico’s Seguro Popular, 2001-2007

Health system reforms that introduce insurance principles into public health systems (such as national health insurance, internal markets, and separation of purchasers and providers) have been popular in the last two decades. Little is known, however, about the political complexities of transforming existing health services into health insurance systems in developing countries. Mexico’s Seguro Popular (Popular Health Insurance) program, introduced in 2003, was an attempt to do exactly this: radically alter the country’s existing health service and convert it into health insurance. Popular Health Insurance (PHI) has garnered international attention and has been held up as a model for other countries to follow. Yet little has been written about the political process that led to the reform or the difficulties of implementing it. This article fills that lacuna, offering an assessment of the reform context as well as of the process of formulating, adopting, and implementing it. It argues that, while the reform has improved Mexico’s public health service, it has thus far failed to transform that health service into a true insurance system. Limited institutional reform has also left PHI severely underfinanced. The Mexican case is a cautionary tale for reformers who want to transform extant health services into health insurance systems.

Open Budgets, Sustainable Democracies: A Spotlight on the Middle East and North Africa

Citizens in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have asserted their rights to sustainable livelihoods, societies free of corruption, and opportunities for engagement in public affairs. The poor state of economic governance in the MENA region has not gone unnoticed and has no doubt contributed to the current political instability. The International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2010 reveals that, with an average Open Budget Index score of 23 out of 100, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the lowest scoring region in terms of budget transparency and accountability. In addition to the lack of public availability of budget documents, this region performs poorly with regard to the engagement of oversight institutions and the general public with the budget process. Even though some MENA countries have begun to undertake public finance management reforms, they should use the Open Budget Survey results to emphasize budget transparency and accountability as an essential component of good governance. (Also available in Arabic)

Spending Wisely: A Budget Reform Action Plan for Ghana

This paper discusses the risks and potential impact of the flow of revenues from oil extraction expected in Ghana by the end of 2010. The increased revenues can consolidate Ghana’s middle-income status provided steps are taken to reform the financial management systems and increase the level of transparency and effectiveness of public spending. The paper also discusses the weaknesses in Ghana’s budget process and offers recommendations on specific areas for financial reform and on how the oil revenues can bolster Ghana’s social sector.