Release the Public Budget to the People… Now!
Continuing with the blackout approach by the regime, the Minister of Finance presents the 2013-2014 draft budget to the Shura Council without making it available to citizens.
Early this April and in complete secrecy, the Minister of Finance presented the 2013-2014 budget proposal to the Shura Council, without making it available publicly for citizens, neither on the ministry’s website nor in any other form of publication.
The news was only announced early last week, in private newspapers such as Youm7 and al-Shorouk.
This comes despite Egypt’s constitutional, legal, and international commitments to present release the budget to the public three months before the fiscal year comes to a close, which will allow the government to achieve better governance and lower internal corruption, a first step to achieve open and inclusive budgets for citizens.
To achieve budget transparency, budget documents and decisions should published and announced to the public during its four stages:
It also entails publishing the budget proposal in all its details including: the details of utilization and revenues in the economic and executive sections, the proposed budget for the administration, local administration, and services entities.
However, the government did not adhere to the above, sending its budget proposal to the Shura Council, “which is not constitutionally competent to discuss it.”
Accordingly, the revolutionary and national parties and organizations signatory to this statement demand from the Shura Council, in accordance with the principles of transparency and social participation, not to take any decision about the budget, before allowing all interested parties a real opportunity to conduct a real social discussion on the budget. The signatories also call for the publication of the budget proposal for economic entities, public sector companies, and holding companies.
Access to the state budget in a public, transparent, and social-participatory manner is an inherent right for citizens, based on Article 55 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states, “It is a national duty for citizens to participate in public life.” It is also because citizens bear the burden of the budget, whether through the taxes imposed on them, the services they expect from the government, and the manner of spending the country’s resources and wealth, which belongs to the people.
If the Egyptian government is pursuing the same approach of the government of the deposed Mubarak regime–neglecting active social participation of citizens in such decisions and their suppression–the signatories demand that the Minister of Finance and President of the Shura Council announce the state general budget to the public. This will allow all concerned citizens, civil society organizations, and political parties to review the budget according to Article 47 of the Constitution, which states:
“Citizens have the right to access information, data, statistics, and documents, and to disclose and circulate them. The state guarantees this right. The right is constrained by the inviolability of private life, the rights of others, and exigencies of national security.
“The law specifies the principles by which public documents are accessed and archived. It determines how information is acquired and complaints against information denials are lodged. It also specifies how accountability for such denials is established.”
It is time the Egyptian government becomes aware that its citizens have the right to knowledge and to participation in all what the government does on their behalf, in their name, and with their money.
Socialist Popular Alliance Party
Egyptian Social Democratic Party
April 6 movement
Egypt our Right Movement
Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
Hisham Mubarak Center for Law
Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory
Habi Center for Environmental Rights
Association for Human Rights Legal Aid
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development Center
Center Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance
Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement