Create a genuine Citizen's Budget

The next national action plan should include a commitment to a genuine Citizen's Budget, in the sense of a multimedia Budget communication that allows ordinary citizens, including those with low financial literacy, to thoroughly understand how the New Zealand government is spending money. This communication could, as it does in other countries, take the form of a cartoon/graphic novel, an animated video, a series of easy-to-decipher infographics, or some other form. The communication would explain the importance of the Budget and highlight key spending areas/amounts, making an effort to relate items of spending to people's everyday lives and concepts they can readily understand.

Why the contribution is important

The Open Budget Survey repeatedly gives New Zealand high marks for publishing detailed Budget information for (in simple terms) those who know where to look (the highly motivated or economically literate, in other words), but relatively low marks for publishing information in a way that is accessible to those who do not know where to look.

A Citizen's Budget, which is increasingly becoming standard in other countries, is a way to resolve that problem. It focuses on explaining the highly complex nature of government spending, totalling roughly $80 billion in New Zealand annually, in ways that are accessible to the general public.

This is important because, in the simplest terms, the Budget is an extremely important part of the government's activities and more generally the democratic system. Without adequate public understanding of how taxpayer funds are being spent, there can be no proper scrutiny of such major Budget decisions. A Citizen's Budget cannot by itself overcome all the barriers to understanding of the Budget (especially those created by socio-economic conditions), but it can be a significant step in that direction.

by maxrash on March 09, 2021 at 05:18PM

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  • Posted by Derek April 07, 2021 at 22:33

    See the Comment Raising the Bar on Opening Budgeting under 'Active citizenship and partnership' which covers very similar territory about improving access to Budget information for citizens who are not Budget experts .
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