Participatory budgeting in Belarus: checking of possibilities for decentralised cooperation

NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” expert in public finances Yuri Krivorotko prepared the paper that aims to develop technique, ways, and relevant tools which lead to participatory budgeting in Belarus. The author also holds the position of the Head of economics and accounting department at the Belarusian Institute of Jurisprudence, doctor of economic sciences degree, professor position.

Most post-soviet countries are facing the challenge of improving the functioning of their sector of public administration. Theoretically, two contrary types of reaction to this challenge exist – centralization vs. decentralization. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages. In Belarus, the preference is likely to be given to the first one. But does it mean that there are no other options? We suppose that the answer is “yes, there are”. Decentralisation involving engine of inter-jurisdictional competition could provide a sound solution for public sector efficiency issue avoiding many problems associated with the growing power of the central government.

The process of decentralisation of local communities and the participative approach is one of the most challenging ones of these last years in the post-soviet countries and Belarus as well. Thanks to decentralised cooperation, the mutual cooperation between Civil Society and Local Governments occur and it is possible to develop projects and activities that support local democracy and economic and social development. They are also creating strong links between communities and citizens, creating dialogue and trust.

One of the ways of decentralised cooperation is the public participation in the local budget process or participatory budgeting where the citizens and active groups of the population are setting up the local budget and include in it their projects. Thanks to participatory budgeting, citizens have the right to say how part of the public resources should be spent. Participatory budgeting is a tool for further civic education which leads not only to a higher awareness of public issues and related policy making.

The paper investigates whether local participatory budgeting is an approach to reach the fiscal decentralization in countries with rigid centralized vertical power as it is Belarus. The paper analyses the results of the Visegrad group countries’ survey in the forms and techniques of participatory budgeting and presents the advantages and shortcomings of this process. The main determinants of the interest, awareness, and participation of citizens in participatory budgeting processes are explored as well. The study’s results in Belarus have shown that the main type of participatory budgeting is a re-granting model based on EU funds presented for Belarus. The developed ability of participatory budgeting within the re-granting projects in Belarus can testify to opportunities of transfer of its experience on the local budget process by citizens on the base of the participation principle. Checking of possibilities for participatory budgeting in local budget process the paper explores.

Krivorotko. Participatory budgeting in Belarus - checking of possibilities for decentralised cooperation