Paper Trail for Better Governance

BIRN Kosovo

The Paper Trail Investigations is a project by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Kosovo and BIRN HUB – to promote the rule of law, accountability and transparency in the Balkans and Moldova.

Summary

The Paper Trail Investigations is a project by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Kosovo and BIRN HUB – to promote the rule of law, accountability, and transparency in the Balkans and Moldova.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
Contribute to better functioning of the public sector that abides by principles of transparency and accountability to its citizens which will in the long-term contribute to human security to the whole South-Eastern Europe/Danube Region.

Purpose of the program: Exposing wrongdoings of the governments, public and private companies, as well as individuals, through the promotion of the rule of law, accountability and transparency

Specific Objectives: 

Exposing wrongdoings of public institutions, public or private companies, and individuals, through multimedia investigations, in-depth analysis of institutions’ openness to freedom of information requests, and the establishment of an online database.

Main Activities:

  1. Implementing investigative projects.
  2. Two televised debates and reports produced and broadcasted.
  3. Cross-border report on institutions’ compliance with Freedom of Information (FoI) legislation.
  4. Creating an online, searchable database of documents obtained using FoI legislation in each country.
  5. Workshops and on-the-job training for journalists.

Target Groups:

The main target group of the project consists of investigative journalists, researchers, journalists from other media and public in general in the region and worldwide.
Highlights:
The programme is focused on five key themes which are critical for good governance in the region – energy, road building, the financial sector, the influx of money from the Middle East and the arms industry.

Through the extensive use of public documents, the investigations are exposing wrongdoing in government, public and private companies and among powerful individuals.

The project also addresses the transparency of public institutions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Moldova.

As part of our drive for openness, we have also established a free, user-friendly, searchable online library of public documents and scraped databases, BIRN Source.

Working with some of the biggest names in international journalism, BIRN has produced dozens of hard-hitting investigations which are reshaping the public perceptions of their governments, business elites, and journalism.

BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting

BIRN Hub

The BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting works to enhance the reporting skills and journalistic standards of journalists from the Balkans and beyond, training 20 journalists from the Balkan region and 10 international journalists each year.

Summary

BIRN Summer School 2016

Every year BIRN gathers renowned international investigative journalists and experts to train the Summer School participants, including Sheila Coronel, professor at Columbia University; Nick Davies, the journalist for The Guardian who revealed the Rupert Murdoch affair; Mark Schoofs, a ProPublica Senior editor and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner; and Paul Bradshaw, one of the UK’s most well-known bloggers.

BIRN also provides financial support for the top story ideas generated during the School. Summer School participants are divided into groups, where they develop their story ideas, and they then conduct investigations and produce a story that BIRN publishes on its flagship news portal- Balkan Insight. The Summer School also provides networking opportunities for the journalists who attend.

The training, which is held over five days each year, uses a curriculum based on the Investigative Journalism Handbook ‘Digging Deeper: A Guide for Investigative Journalists in the Balkans’, which was published by BIRN and has been translated into Albanian, Macedonian, and Serbian.

BIRN’s Summer School is organised in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung’s Media Program- South East Europe, and funded by the Open Society Foundation, the OSCE Missions to Serbia and Skopje, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the US Embassy in Skopje, BIRN Kosovo and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Zagreb.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
Bringing high quality and high standards to investigative reporting in the Balkans, with the opportunity for wide dissemination of summer school journalists’ work in the Balkan region, and internationally.
Specific Objectives:
  • Enhancing investigative reporting skills and journalistic standards of 20 journalists from the Balkan region and 10 international journalists each year;
  • Providing networking opportunities for the journalists attending the school;
  •  Promoting investigative journalism in the Balkans by publishing investigations produced by journalists trained at the Summer School.

Main Activities:

  • Training – BIRN provides five days of training based on the curriculum ‘Digging Deeper’.
  • Financing investigative stories – BIRN provides financial support for the best story ideas put forward during the School. An average of three stories are produced each year.
  • Publishing – BIRN publishes investigative pieces from Summer School participants on BalkanInsight.com

Target Groups:

Journalists, media experts, investigative reporters from the Balkans; International journalists and media experts; Local, regional, and international media outlets.
Highlights:
Digging Deeper handbook for investigative journalism, translated into Albanian, Macedonian, and Serbian languages.

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence

BIRN Hub

Through its Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme, BIRN works within the region to foster quality reporting, initiate regional networking among journalists and advance balanced coverage on topics that are central to the region as well as to the EU.

Summary

The programme provides training and networking for 10 journalists from the region every year, each of whom produces an investigative or analytical article with regional relevance.

Fellowship journalists receive training and editorial support from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s team of editors, as well as a bursary of €2,000 and additional travel and research funding of up to €2,000.

The reporters attend seminars in Vienna and in the region, and enjoy extensive republication of their articles in regional and international print and online media, as well as a chance to win monetary awards.

Fellows are given a unique opportunity to network with other fellows, alumni and international experts.

This programme is very competitive and receives more than 100 applications annually, while the number of republications of the participants’ articles has grown every year, reaching an average of 500 republications in the region and abroad.

BIRN promotes the journalists and their work, securing public recognition and increasing the visibility of the programme.

In addition, the BIRN team strengthens the Alumni network through bi-annual meetings and a small grants scheme for quality content production.

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was initiated in 2007 by ERSTE Foundation and Robert Bosch Stiftung, in cooperation with BIRN.

Since 2014 it is supported by the ERSTE Foundation and Open Society Foundations, while the Robert Bosch Stiftung remains committed to the development of the programme alumni initiative.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • foster quality reporting,
  • initiate regional networking among journalists and
  • advance balanced coverage on topics that are central to the region as well as to the EU

Specific Objectives:

  • To provide training and networking for 10 journalists from the region each year
  • To produce 10 investigative or analytical articles with regional relevance
  • To promote journalists and their work, securing public recognition and the visibility of the programme
  • To strengthen the alumni network through bi-annual meetings and a small grants scheme for quality content production

Main Activities:

  • Training for journalists
  • Production and publishing of quality content
  • Strengthening regional network of journalists
  • Promotion of programme findings through dissemination of articles and organization of public discussions

Target Groups:

  • Journalists from targeted countries

Highlights:

  • In 2011 alone four alumni and fellows were awarded for the outstanding results in their work. Adrian Mogos received the CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism and the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism; Marius Cosmeanu and Ivan Angelovski were awarded with the Milena Jesenska fellowship; and Stevan Dojcinovic received the Daniel Pearl – Raising Star Award, as part of the OCCRP project team.
  • Alumni fellows participated in some of the most prestigious media and political conferences organized in the region and the EU (Commission on Media Policy, Political Forum Alpbach, Global Investigative Journalism Conference)
  • Romania’s national journalistic competition Superscrieri has given awards to Elena Stancu and Vlad Odobescu, both 2013 fellows of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.
  • In December 2013 three awards were given to the alumni from Kosovo – Selvije Bajrami was honored for contribution to the fight against the corruption by the UN Development Programme in Kosovo and Arbana Xharra was presented by KOHA Group with ” Rexhai Surroi ” award for journalism for the series of articles “Kosovo alarmed by conservative extremists “, while organization INPO Ferizaj awarded her with the “Stirring Debate”, for sparking debate in society on difficult topics, including religious radicalism.
  • Sorana Stanescu, alumnus from Romania, has won the 2013 Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies, UACES award for her article ‘Cheap and Far from Free’ produced through the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Project
  • Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme and its editor Neil Arun have been nominated for the European Press Prize 2012 in the Innovation Award category for the outstanding innovation of the year
  • Adrian Mogos, a Romanian journalist and Fellowship alumnus was nominated for the European Press Prize 2012 in News Reporting Award category, for the reporter or specialist expert whose work has made a decisive impact
  • Number of alumni fellows were awarded for their work in 2012, including Stevan Dojcinovic who has won the prestigious “Jug Grizelj” award for investigative journalism.
  • A 2015 alumna of the BIRN Hub Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme received a commendation from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Albania, UN Women, for the “creation of a professional model of investigative journalism for the reporting on trafficking of women and girls”.
  • Following publication of a story about women in Romania and Bulgaria enduring low pay, long hours and gruelling work to make clothes for luxury Western clothing brands – produced as part of BIRN Hub’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence 2015 programme – Labour inspection issued three fines for one of the factories in Romania.

Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Alumni Network

BIRN Hub

The Alumni Network, drawing on the work of the Fellowship, aims to promote the ideas of journalistic excellence and spread the concept of free and professional media throughout the region.

Summary

The project has brought together past fellows of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence since 2008. The Fellowship, which was launched in 2007, provides training and networking for 10 journalists from the region each year, each of whom produces an investigative or analytical article with regional relevance.

Participants come from Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Albania.

The Alumni Network aims to strengthen the professional links between journalists from the region, produce high quality content, and promote excellence and professionalism in the media industry in the Balkans.

The Network holds bi-annual meetings and coordinates cooperative reporting projects between alumni of the Fellowship.

Alumni fellows have participated in some of the most prestigious media and political conferences organised in the region and the EU, and many alumni and fellows have received regional and international awards for they work.

These awards include the Europe Reporting Prize, awarded by the Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies, UACES, CEI SEEMO Award for Outstanding Merits in Investigative Journalism and the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism, as well as the  Daniel Pearl award for international investigative reporting and a TED fellowship for innovation.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • Promoting the ideas of journalistic excellence in its work, spreading the concept of free and professional media throughout the region.

Specific Objectives:

  • Strengthening the professional links between journalists from the region;
  • Production and promotion of high quality content;
  • Promotion of excellence and professionalism in media industry

Main Activities:

  • Bi-annual meetings
  • Reporting projects

Target Groups:

  • Journalists from the Balkans

Highlights:

  • In 2011, two alumni of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Ivan Angelovski from Belgrade and Marius Cosmeanu from Bucharest – were selected to take part in the prestigious Milena Jesenská Fellowship for Journalists.
  • Stevan Dojčinović, a 2011 fellow from Serbia, received a national award for investigative journalism.
  • Dojčinović and 2008 fellow Stanimir Vaglenov, along with other members of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project team, were awarded the Daniel Pearl award for international investigative reporting.
  • The 2010 Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism honoured our 2009 alumni fellow Adrian Mogos, who in the same year also received the CEI – SEEMO award for outstanding merit in investigative journalism.
  • Yana Buhrer Tavanier, a 2009 fellow from Bulgaria, was the first fellow from Southeast Europe to be awarded the prestigious TED fellowship for innovation.
  • Barbara Matejcic, a 2009 fellow from Croatia, was the first Croatian journalist to win the Zagreb Pride award for her coverage of LGBT topics.
  • The short story Zlatka, written by 2009 Croatian fellow Maja Hrgovic, was included in the Best European Fiction 2012 anthology (Dalkey Archive Press) and published in Granta magazine. Shooting for a short movie based on the story is about to begin in Croatia and will be included in the Deep Cuts compilation film.
  • Selvije Bajrami, a 2011 fellow from Kosovo, was awarded first prize by the United Nations Development Programme for reporting on corruption.
  • Romania’s national journalistic competition Superscrieri has given awards to Elena Stancu and Vlad Odobescu, both 2013 fellows of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.
  • Selvije Bajrami was in 2013 awarded for contribution to the fight against the corruption by the UN Development Programme in Kosovo
  • In December 2013 Arbana Xharra, editor of Kosovo daily Zeri, and alumnus of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was awarded with two awards for her journalistic work during the year. KOHA Group awarded Xharra with ” Rexhai Surroi ” award for journalism for the series of articles “Kosovo alarmed by conservative extremists “, while organization INPO Ferizaj awarded her with the “Stirring Debate” for sparking debate in society on difficult topics, including religious radicalism.
  • Sorana Stanescu, alumnus from Romania, has won the 2013 Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies, UACES award for her article ‘Cheap and Far from Free’ produced through the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Project
  • Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence programme and its editor Neil Arun have been nominated for the European Press Prize 2012 in the Innovation Award category for the outstanding innovation of the year.
  • Stevan Dojcinovic, editor of the Centre for Investigative Journalism Serbia and an alumnus of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalism Excellence, has won the 2012 Jug Grizelj award for investigative journalism.
  • Jeton Musliu, an alumnus of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, has won an award for the best culture story published in Kosovo in 2012.
  • Eldin Hadzovic, an alumnus of BIRN’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, was honoured by UNICEF for his outstanding contribution to journalism in Bosnia in 2012.

Eye on Public Finances

BIRN Serbia

BIRN Serbia’s Eye on Public Finances programme aims to increase government transparency and accountability in the sphere of public finances by generating public demand and creating opportunities for constructive debate among stakeholders, and increasing citizen participation.

Summary

In 2012, this programme ran a number of projects from its Belgrade headquarters, including the Resource Center, Social Audit, National Budget Forum, Citizens Budget, Make Your Budget Application, and Citizens Participation in the Budget Process.

The multi-year programme aims to foster fact-based debate among stakeholders, resulting in changes in attitudes and policies. It also looks to increase the transparency of state institutions and agencies and their policies while increasing the capacity of the media for in-depth analytical reporting. In addition, Eye on Public Finances seeks to improve the government’s budget planning process and develop sustainable mechanisms for citizen participation in the budget process.

With these goals in mind, the programme takes an innovative approach to communicating macroeconomic policy and public financial management to the people of Serbia, while providing know-how to the Ministry of Finance and setting the groundwork for creating a sustainable framework for communicating the budget to the people of Serbia.

Under the programme, BIRN Serbia conducts social audit research (in education and health) and develops online databases. BIRN Serbia’s journalists contribute analysis and investigative journalism reports, and the team produces and promotes a Citizen’s Budget and organises the National Budget Forum. BIRN Serbia has also developed the web application Make Your Budget.

BIRN Serbia partners with ProConcept for the Eye on Public Finances programme. The British Embassy to Serbia and the USAID BEP Programme are donors.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
To increase governments transparency and accountability in sphere of public finances through generating public demand and creating opportunities for constructive debate among stakeholders and for citizens participation
Specific Objectives:
  • Fact-based debate among stakeholders fostered, resulting in changes in attitudes and policies
  • Increased transparency of state institutions and agencies and their policies
  • Increased capacities of media for in-depth analytical reporting
  • Improvement of the budget planning process and developing sustainable mechanisms for citizens participation in budget processes
  • To take an innovative approach to communicating macroeconomic policy and public financial management to the people of Serbia and various interest groups.
  • Providing know-how to the Ministry of Finance and set the ground for creating a sustainable framework for communicating the budget to the people of Serbia.

Main Activities: 

  • Social Audit research (in education and health) production and promotion
  • Development of on –line data bases
  • Analytical and investigative journalistic reporting
  • Production and promotion of the Citizens Budget
  • Organization of the National Budget Forum
  • Development of web application Make your Budget

Target Groups:

Expert community, public administration, journalists, general public

Social Audit in Education and Health

BIRN Serbia – past programme

As part of its programme to increase government transparency and accountability in the sphere of public finances, BIRN Serbia runs a social audit project.

Summary

The project, which runs from August 2012-December 2012, aims to foster fact-based debate and strengthen evidence-based policy making using the examples of the health and education sectors.

The social audit is a tool for improving policy making by evaluating the quality of public budget implementation against key government programmes.

As part of the project, the BIRN Serbia team will draft a social audit report and recommendations which will provide an analysis of the impact of current policies and input for future policy proposals. The report will be presented to the National Assembly of Serbia during public hearings.

The social audit project, which targets lawmakers, the expert community and the general public, is supported by the British Embassy to Serbia.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To increase governments transparency and accountability in sphere of public finances

Specific Objectives:

  • Fact-based debate among stakeholders fostered, resulting in changes in attitudes and policies
  • Strengthened and promoted evidence-based policy making, based on the examples of health and education

Main Activities:

  • Social Audit development and execution: The Social Audit is a tool for improving evidence-based policy making through evaluation of the quality of public budget implementation against the key government programs (within the selected policy areas)
  • Social Audit Report and Recommendations: The Social audit Report will provide analysis of the impact of current policies and input for future policy proposals.
  • Awareness and competence building: Social audit Report will be presented in the NA of Serbia – at the public hearings in parliamentary boards for health and education.

Target Groups:

  • Members of Parliament
  • Expert community
  • Media
  • General public

Highlights:

  • Media reports

Resource Centre

BIRN Serbia – past programme

As part of its effort to increase government transparency and accountability in the sphere of public finances, BIRN Serbia has launched a resource center for journalists and state workers, as well as the general public.

Summary

As part of the project, which runs from April 2012-April 2013, BIRN Serbia is developing an online database that will be posted on the existing SkockajteBudzet web portal.

The team is collecting documents from state institutions and requesting targeted documents/reports.

In addition, BIRN Serbia is working with a group of journalists to produce quality analytical media reports using documents that have been gathered for the resource center.

Finally, the team will promote the database among journalists throughout Serbia via workshops and meetings.

Through this project, BIRN Serbia aims to increase the capacity of the media to carry out in-depth analytical reporting and augment the transparency of state institutions and agencies.

The project’s target audience is Serbian journalists and the general public. It is supported by the British Embassy to Serbia.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To increase governments transparency and accountability in sphere of public finances

Specific Objectives:

  • Increased capacities of media for in-depth analytical reporting
  • Increased transparency of state institutions and agencies and their policies

Main Activities:

  • Development of online database on the existing SkockajteBudzet web portal – special application will be added boosting its Resource page
  • Collection of the documents – BIRN will be working on collecting documents from state institutions, sending requests and demanding targeted documents/reports
  • Production of analytical media reports – BIRN will work with team of journalists in order to produce quality media outputs using documents gathered.
  • Promotion – Database will be promoted among journalists throughout Serbia via workshops and meetings

Target Groups:

  • Journalists
  • State administration
  • General public

National Budget Forum 2012

BIRN Serbia – past programme

BIRN Serbia’s National Budget Forum aims to increase government transparency and accountability in the sphere of public finances through an annual forum on the country’s budget.

Summary

The 2012 Forum aims to gather relevant stakeholders and launch a discussion on the strategic objectives of the 2013 budget, and inform the public of the budget planning process for the coming year.

The National Budget Forum (NBF) is designed as an annual event, with the goal of establishing a permanent forum for public discussion on public finances/budget policies and priorities in Serbia.

The NBF is designed to increase the inclusiveness of budget planning, development and implementation in Serbia. NBF includes a panel discussion on the design and priorities of the budget for the coming year, two working group discussions and a presentation of conclusions.

The National Budget Forum brings together representatives of the executive and legislative branches, as well as CSOs, budget experts, the private sector, media and interest groups. It targets both the general public and the expert community.

The project is implemented in partnership with ProConcept, and is funded by the British Embassy to Serbia.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To increase governments transparency and accountability in sphere of public finances

Specific Objectives:

  • To gather relevant stakeholders and launch discussion on strategic objectives of the 2013 budget
  • To inform the public on the budget planning process for the coming year

Main Activities:

  • The National Budget Forum (NBF) is designed as an annual event, with the goal of establishing a permanent forum for public discussion on public finances/budget policies and priorities in Serbia.
  • The NBF is designed so to increase inclusiveness of budget planning, development and implementation in Serbia. NBF is designed in the format of:
    1. panel discussion on design and priorities of the budget for the coming year,
    2. two working group discussions and
    3. presentation of conclusions.

Target Groups:

  • Executive
  • Legislative
  • Civil Society Organisations
  • Expert community
  • Private sector
  • Media
  • Interest groups.

Make Your Own Budget Online Application

BIRN Serbia – past programme

BIRN Serbia is developing and promoting a Make Your Own Budget online application for the Serbian Parliament as part of its Eye on Public Finances programme.

Summary

The project, which runs from January 2012-April 2013, aims to enable public participation in the budget planning process through an online mechanism. The application intends to enhance public knowledge of the budget and transparency in public spending.

As part of the Make Your Own Budget project, the BIRN Serbia team is conducting budget analysis and identifying trends. As the online application is developed, BIRN Serbia is training parliamentary staff on how to maintain the application and how to analyse the data gathered from it.

Project leaders are also promoting the application via the web, public outreach, workshops, debates and open classes in universities, as well as public events and study visits.

Make Your Own Budget aims to reach both the general public in Serbia and the country’s lawmakers, as well as the expert community.

ProConcept is the co-implementer of the project, which is supported by the British Embassy in Serbia and the MATRA programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To enable public participation in the budget planning process

Specific Objectives:

  • To develop on-line mechanism for public engagement in the budget process in cooperation with the Parliament
  • To enhance public knowledge on the budget and transparency in the public spending

Main Activities:

  • Budget analyses and identification of trends
  • Development of the application
  • Training for the Parliamentary staff on maintaining the application and analysing data gathered through it
  • Promotion of the application including on line promotion, public outreach, workshops throughout Serbia, debates and open classes in Universities
  • Public events and study visits
  • Parliamentary session prior to the budget discussion

Citizen’s Budget

BIRN Serbia – past programme

BIRN Serbia’s Citizen’s Budget initiative aims to produce a guide to the Serbian budget for the country’s citizens. The BIRN team intends to make a link between revenue raised, expenditures, and outcomes in public services as part of an effort to increase efficiency and strengthen the accountability of the Serbian government’s budgeting process.

Summary

This project, which will run from June 2012-February 2013, will take an innovative approach to communicating macroeconomic policy and public financial management to the people of Serbia and various interest groups. It also aims to provide know-how to the Ministry of Finance and set the groundwork for creating a sustainable framework for communicating the budget to the people of Serbia.

As part of the citizen’s budget project, BIRN Serbia will discuss the government’s budgeting and financial management practices at meetings with the Ministry of Finance in an effort to thoroughly understand the budget process and the policy decisions taken by the government. Project participants will also discuss spending strategy with the Finance Ministry to get an understanding of specific spending plans, to make the link from expenditure to public service outcomes and to establish the geographical distribution of spending.

The team will analyse revenue sources to get a sense of the distributional impact of taxation in the Republic of Serbia (eg. proportional impact on families, households, the employed, the unemployed, businesses etc).

As part of the project, BIRN Serbia will group budget allocations to government ministries into meaningful categories of expenditure (eg. health, education, housing, welfare etc) to communicate spending more effectively to the public. The team will also analyse the government’s fiscal position, including the current deficit, debt management framework and reform program and discuss economic growth prospects with the Fiscal Council. In addition, the project will analyse government financial data to enable comparisons to be drawn with EU averages.

The Citizen’s Budget project will organise a series of consultative meetings with experts in different fields for the purpose of data gathering, especially in terms of the impact of budget allocations.

The results of the project will be translated into a prototype Citizen’s Budget which presents information and data in an easy to understand way, making the budget both tangible and meaningful to the citizens of Serbia. A light-touch framework will be created which enables the Citizen’s Budget to be updated with ease at successive fiscal events.

BIRN Serbia will also organise focus-groups with different stakeholders in order to get their feedback on the proposed concept, the information presented, the way in which it is presented and how it relates to their interests.

The team intends to secure a buy-in from the Finance Ministry through consultation and training to continue to follow this good practice.

The final product of this Citizen’s Budget initiative will include the publication of the Citizen’s Budget Guide, and its promotion in the Parliament, followed by a public outreach campaign.

The target audience for the Citizen’s Budget project is both the general public and the Government of Serbia. The project budget stands at 30,000 euros; it is supported by USAID Business Enabling Project.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
  • To produce a Citizen’s Budget Guide for the Republic of Serbia which aims to make the link between revenue raised, expenditure on and outcomes in public services to both increase efficiency and strengthen accountability of the GoS’s budgeting process.

Specific Objectives:

  • To take an innovative approach to communicating macroeconomic policy and public financial management to the people of Serbia and various interest groups.
  • To provide know-how to the Ministry of Finance and set the ground for creating a sustainable framework for communicating the budget to the people of Serbia.

Main Activities:

  • To discuss the GoS budgeting and financial management practices through meetings with MFIN to thoroughly understand the budget process and the policy decisions taken by the Government.
  • To analyse revenue sources to get a sense of the distributional impact of taxation in the Republic of Serbia (eg. proportional impact on families, households, the employed, the unemployed, businesses etc).
  • To group budget allocations to the government ministries into meaningful categories of expenditure (eg. Health, education, housing, welfare etc) to communicate spending more effectively to the public.
  • To discuss spending strategy with MFIN to get an understanding of specific spending plans, to make the link from expenditure to public service outcomes and to get a sense of the geographical distribution of spending.
  • To analyse the GoS fiscal position, including the current deficit, debt management framework and reform program and to discuss the economic growth prospect with the Fiscal Council.
  • To analyse GoS financial data to enable comparisons to be drawn with EU averages.
  • To organize a series of consultative meetings with experts in different fields for the purpose of data gathering, especially in terms of impact of budget allocations.
  • To translate results into a prototype Citizen’s budget which presents information and data in an easy to understand way making the budget both tangible and meaningful to the citizens of Serbia.
  • Create a light-touch framework which enables the Citizen’s budget to be updated with ease at successive fiscal events.
  • To organize focus-groups with different stakeholders in order to get their feedback on proposed concept, information presented, the way in which it is presented and how it relates to their interests.
  • Secure buy-in from the MFIN through consultation and training to continue to follow this good practice.
  • Editing, design and printing the Citizens Budget Guide.
  • Promote the Citizen’s budget in the Parliament, followed by the public outreach campaign.

Target Groups:

  • Government of Serbia
  • Expert community
  • General public