UNDP promotes the development of participatory budgeting in Uzbekistan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- More than 70 specialists of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan, territorial financial bodies, and local authorities improved their skills in the participatory budgeting administration. The series of "Participatory Budgeting" workshops was organized on October 19-21, 2021, with UNDP assistance under the Program of Bilateral Cooperation between the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.
A delegation from the Financial Research Institute of the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation arrived at Tashkent to conduct a professional advanced training programme. The delegation consisted of employees of the Center for Initiative Budgeting, headed by Mr. Vladimir Vagin, as well as representatives of the public organization "Alliance of Participatory Budgeting Consultants" and the training agency "Master Class".
During the three-day programme, trainees learned about the theory and practice of participatory budgeting in the Russian Federation, the experience of its consulting and information support, and the practice of citizen participation in budget decisions in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The trainees could participate also in a panel discussion and a training workshop dedicated to the fundamentals of moderating a dialogue with citizens.
"I am an inspector in the Fergana City Finance Department and I am responsible for administering participatory budgeting in Fergana city," says Ziyoda Abdulkhaeva. "Participation in this program helped me to learn new approaches in the participatory budgeting implementation and to comprehend the certain experience, which I will use in my future work. It is encouraging that the population actively puts forward its own proposals and believes it can solve social problems through the participatory budget.”
"This year, we were engaged in active awareness-raising activities with population, explaining to people how participatory budgeting works, how to submit projects and vote for them," says Zakhro Obidova, the moderator of the Participatory Budgeting Project in the Tashkent region. "Apparently, we encountered challenges during our work. The knowledge gained during the three-day program, particularly in building an effective dialogue with citizens, will undoubtedly help me improve the participatory budgeting moderating process."
At the end of the "Participatory budgeting" professional advanced training program, on October 22, a briefing was held at the Training Center of the Ministry of Finance, which was devoted to the current practice and further directions of the participatory budgeting process development in Uzbekistan. The briefing participants were interested in the peculiarities of the Russian practice of implementing participatory budgeting projects and further steps to involve citizens in proposing, selecting, and implementing civil initiatives projects in Uzbekistan.
Since 2019, Uzbekistan has introduced a mechanism for citizen participation in the budgetary funds' allocation, providing for the allocation of at least 10% of additional revenues of districts’ (cities’) budgets to fund activities prepared on the basis of public opinion.
This year, the sources of funds allocated to citizens' initiatives have been greatly expanded (from 10 to 30% of additional revenues). In the pilot districts (14), 5% of the approved expenditures of their budgets were allocated for these purposes apart from the additional revenues. It is foreseen that the pilot districts' experience will be scaled up to all districts (cities) starting from 2022. Given the expansion of the volume of the funding, the mechanism and stages of proposal, selection, and public voting for civil initiative projects have also been revised. At the same time, the "Open Budget" portal functionality was improved with the assistance of a Joint Project of the UNDP and the Ministry of Finance "Financing for Sustainable Development in Uzbekistan" in terms of providing citizens the opportunity to participate in the nomination and selection of initiatives proposed for funding by the relevant local budgets. In July 2021 a new design of the portal was presented.