SELDI Background Document 3: Fiscal Transparency Principles and Practice in Serbia

c594ffbae3In the document SELDI’s partner CLDS analyses the problem of fiscal transparency. Usually, fiscal transparency is defined as comprehensive, clear, reliable, timely, and relevant public reporting on the past, present, and future state of public finances. The result of this paper is a general overview of the problem of fiscal transparency, as well as the situation in Serbia. The authors underline that “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, and fiscal transparency can help in reducing corruption and preventing corrupt and bad fiscal practices.

Serbia is clearly not fully compliant with many of the fiscal transparency principles. For example, for more than 10 years the Parliament has not adopted Final Account of the Budget, although they have regularly been prepared and submitted to the Parliament. Also, document such as Citizen’s Budget has never been prepared. Accounting practices are to some extent aligned with international best practices, but not always. Many subsidies have been recorded as either net lending (and accounted as expenses), although they will never be paid back, and some other subsidies have been recorded as acquiring financial assets, where no actual assets have been acquired. Also, budget calendar is in most years not respected – the last Fiscal Strategy (a pre-budget document) has been adopted after the budget. However, the situation has been mostly improving over the last ten years. Most recently, the government has agreed to stop the practice of hiding some expenditures as a below the line acquiring of financial assets.

Full text of the Background Document (Adobe PDF, 737 KB)

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