On developing public services through public budgeting to achieve social justice in Egypt
Reem Abdel Halim

Policy recommendations paper

Radwa El Kholy

The paper examines the public budget as one of the means by which social justice can be achieved in provision of public services. The focus in the paper was on four sectors: education, housing, health and social security.

The significance of the public budget is that it reflects economic, political and social orientation of the government. As well, the process of allocating resources to government bodies for various purposes is essentially a political process. The public budget in Egypt, in its current form and its organized law, reflects the structural stages of its preparation, writing and its implementation, which has a negative impact on the efficient utilization and efficiency of resources, as well as equitable distribution of burdens, spending, equal opportunities and monitoring and accountability.

The budget in its present form, does not, give a comprehensive, complete, clear and understandable picture of its total revenues and expenditure. From here comes the urgency of restructuring and amending the public budget laws (in terms of preparation, implementation and monitoring). Most particularly in light of the hard economic situation especially after the recent economic policies.

The process is intended to create trust between the citizen and the government, by involving citizens in setting priorities, programs, and oversight, citizens can be involved in economic decisions and policies. This process also has a positive impact in the fight against corruption and raising the efficiency of the allocation of resources and the optimal distribution of spending for the best results. Citizens’ knowledge of government programs may encourage citizens or institutions to support these programs or even show interest in other programs and projects that the government does not deal with, thus preventing waste of resources.

The paper tackles as well some international experiences in terms of participatory budgeting like the Brazilian experience, program budgeting, and equality budgeting in the United Kingdom.

At the end, the paper draws some strategies and recommendations in order to achieve social justice through the public budget, amongst them:

• Adopting the human rights based budget: It is formulated based on meeting basic human needs rather than matching revenue estimates, guided by human rights principles in the process of identifying, and assessing people’s needs and outcomes.

• Adopting participatory budget: The process of citizens’ involvement in budget processes, whether in preparation, implementation, evaluation or accountability. To achieve this, the budget stages must be transparent and open. Where citizens have an active role in determining priorities, designing programs, monitoring expenditure and performance, and holding accountable officials.

Full version of the paper is available at Dar Al Maraya for Cultural Production, 23 Abdel Khaliq Tharwat Street, Downtown, Cairo, and at Arab Forum for Alternatives office in Beirut, West house 3 Building, Jane Darc, Hamra St., Beirut, Lebanon. For an Arabic synopsis: http://bit.ly/2XV1sGE

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