Three political parties and 10 non-governmental organisations have published a statement calling for the state budget to be made public before the Shura Council makes any decision regarding it.
The joint statement, published on Sunday was critical of the decision to present the 2013-2014 budget to the Shura council without making it available for the public to see. The signatories of the statement also said it the best way “to achieve budget transparency”.
The political parties that signed the statement are the Socialist Popular Alliance, Egyptian Social Democratic and Al-Dostour parties. A total of 10 NGOs, including the
Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, also signed the statement.
The signatories reported that Minister of Finance Al-Morsi Hegazy presented the public budget to the Shura Council earlier in April but it was not made available for the public to see. The signatories believe this is “continuing the blackout approach by the regime”.
The groups and parties called on the Shura Council not to take any decision, “before allowing all interested parties a real opportunity to conduct a real social dialogue on the budget”.
They also pointed out that the government has a constitutional responsibility to make the budget publically available three months prior to the end of the fiscal year, “which will allow the government to achieve better governance and lower internal corruption, a first step to achieve open and inclusive budgets for citizens”.
The signatories said “budget documents and decisions should be published and announced to the public during its four stages: formulation, approval, execution and oversight” in order to achieve transparency. They also called for all of the details contained in the budget to be made available. The signatories also cited Article 55 of the constitution which states: “It is a national duty for citizens to participate in public life.” They also cited Article 47 of the constitution that asserts freedom of information for all citizens.
The statement ended with a message for the Egyptian government: “It is time the Egyptian government becomes aware that its citizens have the right to knowledge and to participation in everything the government does on their behalf, in their name, and with their money.”