4 December 12

Serbia: Budget Process Fast, But Not Transparent

While Serbian officials adopted the state budget on time, the process lacked public input, participants in the Fourth National Budget Forum concluded on Monday.

At the forum, which was organised by BIRN and PRO CONCEPT, participants said the most significant progress made in Serbia's budget process is prompt voting, but they lamented the lack of public participation.

The forum brought together over 100 representatives of ministries, members of parliament, civil society representatives and experts, representatives of embassies in Belgrade and local governments.

Vlajko Senić, State Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, said the budget is realistic, and added that in creating it, the Ministry considered the remarks of the Fiscal Council related to the improvement of budget control.

“The establishment of a quarterly expenditure control mechanism introduced tougher discipline and better transparency," he said at the forum, which was held at the National Parliament.

Responding to the comment that there was no public debate before the vote on the budget, Senić said that a new government was formed in the final quarter of the budget season, and there was no time for wider public involvement in the decision-making process.

Vladimir Vučković, a member of the Fiscal Council, told participants he was pleased that the Ministry had acknowledged and adopted numerous comments made by the Council. He described the budget as realistic, while pointing to areas of risk on both the expenditure and the revenue sides.

"Non-tax revenue and income taxes have been overestimated in the projections, but it is still possible to reach the projections if the inflation rate increases," Vucković said.

On the expenditure side the most important test for the Ministry of Finance will be to hold to planned salaries and not to succumb to social pressure and abandon the tight control of wages and earnings, he added.

Meanwhile Dimitri Boarov, a journalist from the weekly magazine "Vreme", said he was pleased that the Ministry of Finance had adhered to the budget calendar and followed the advice of expert bodies, but noted that such steps do not bring about fundamental change to the process.

"It is almost certain that the budget will face major risks in implementation, primarily the risk of not maintaining levels of planned expenditures," Boarov said.

Citizens budget

At the forum on Monday, BIRN and PRO CONCEPT presented the Citizens Guide to the State Budget, which was drafted by the two organisations.

The first manual of its kind in Serbia, the Citizens Guide was created with the aim of making the preparation, adoption and execution of the budget more accessible and more comprehensible to the public.

"We have forgotten about the citizens and the fact that the budget is actually in their interest. This guide is designed for citizens and is part of an effort to make it easier for them to actively engage in monitoring the budget, " the guide's creators told the forum.

The editor of the economic section of "Večernje Novosti", Gordana Bulatovic, who represented the media at the public hearing, said that not only were citizens deprived of basic information related to the budget, but media outlets were also given inadequate information.

"The media can not find anything about hidden costs and how much money is given to each Ministry. For many subjects we have no counterparts in government. Reporting on the budget was reduced to tabloid newspaper and transfer of parliamentary replicas, while there was no analysis of the law and its impact on citizens," said Bulatovic.


Fill out my online form.

Latest News and Events

birn-summer-school-day-4-scaling-up-investigations

BIRN Summer School Day 4: Scaling Up Investigations

On the fourth day of BIRN’s Summer School, trainers advised the journalists on how to pitch stories, structure investigative projects and use technology to assist their work.

birn-summer-school-day-3-interviewing-techniques-and-sourcing

BIRN Summer School Day 3: Interviewing Techniques and Sourcing

On the third day of BIRN’s Summer School, journalists heard how to harness the power of social media, carry out interviews and develop sources for stories.

birn-summer-school-day-2-social-media-for-investigators

BIRN Summer School Day 2: Social Media for Investigators

On the second day of BIRN’s Summer School, journalists learned how to creatively structure stories and use various databases and other investigative tools.

seventh-birn-summer-school-begins-in-bosnia

Seventh BIRN Summer School Begins in Bosnia

BIRN’s latest Summer School kicked off on Monday with interactive sessions on data journalism and fact-checking.

birn-bih-presented-three-stories-at-the-22nd-sff

BIRN Presents War Stories at Sarajevo Film Fest

The first ‘True Stories Market’ aimed at film and TV professionals at the Sarajevo Film Festival included three stories from BIRN relating to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s wartime past.

birn-bosnia-becomes-sarajevo-film-festival-partner

BIRN Bosnia Becomes Sarajevo Film Festival Partner

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) will participate as a partner in the “Facing the Past” at this year’s Sarajevo Film Festival.

birn-bih-joins-european-integration-monitoring-initiative

BIRN BiH Joins European Integration Monitoring Initiative

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) has joined the Initiative for Monitoring the European Integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is intended to help develop the democratic process and the rule of law. 

birn-kosovo-publishes-report-on-women-s-property-rights

BIRN Kosovo publishes report on women’s property rights

BIRN Kosovo published an analysis on Thursday, July 28, of women’s property rights in Kosovo in order to present a picture of the major problems around a woman’s right to inherit property.

transitional-justice-training-for-journalists

Transitional Justice Training for Journalists

BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice Programme is organising a two-day training session for 20 journalists from the region on 22 and 23 September in Sarajevo.

serbian-ruling-party-exhibits-media-lies

Serbian Ruling Party Exhibits 'Media Lies'

Serbia's ruling Progressive Party (SNS) organized an unusual exhibition of negative press articles to back its claim that there is no official censorship in Serbia.

In This Article

Network