Finance minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER
Finance minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER

The government will continue to make the Treasury more accessible to ordinary South Africans so they can contribute to the preparation of the budget and have access to information about it, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said Tuesday.

He was speaking at the launch of vulekamali, an online budget data portal developed by Imali Yethu and the Treasury. The portal will exist alongside the main Treasury website and will contain the same data on the budget but in a different, more accessible format. It will also allow members of the public to post their views and have conversations about the budget information.

This adds to and takes further the annual call that is made for members of the public to submit tips to the minister on the budget.

The aim of the portal is to improve access to budget information. Gigaba said it would help improve budget transparency, public participation and oversight. "Transparency is not enough to ensure the effective delivery of public services," Gigaba said.

The Treasury’s head of budget planning and budget reform, Kay Brown, said the current priority for budget reform was public participation, which would be achieved through the portal. She believed that the public did not use budget information in a consistent manner.

Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane said the portal had its basis in the intergovernmental fiscal system that integrates the financial systems of national and provincial governments.

Public Service Accountability Monitor director Jay Kruuse noted that SA came jointly first with New Zealand in 2017 in the Open Budget Survey in terms of budget transparency. SA scored higher than most countries in terms of public participation in the budget process — it received a score of 24 out of 100 — but still had a long way to go to improve this, Kruuse said.