Between 2018 and 2020, FSVC successfully implemented a program with the Ministry of Finance, Parliament and local government representatives in Bangladesh, to make budget information more available to citizens. FSVC also strengthened the technical skills of local civil society organizations (CSOs) to provide input into budget decisions and promote stronger dialogue between citizens and their government representatives with regard to budget issues. This program was funded by the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka and implemented in partnership with the local organization Research and Planning for Integrated Development (RAPID).
· Developing a national Citizens Budget for the Enacted Budgets of 2018 and 2019: Citizens versions of budgets help inform citizens of budget allocations, help them understand what services to expect, and equip them with the knowledge needed to advocate for reforms in the budget process. Prior to this program, Bangladesh had not developed or published a Citizens Budget for the Enacted Budget since 2015. FSVC worked with the Ministries of Finance and Planning and CSOs to develop the first Citizens Budget with input from local CSOs. These public-private consultations were the first of their kind in Bangladesh. CSOs were able to enrich discussions on why a Citizens Budget needs to be developed, how it should be developed, what information it should contain and how it should be presented to citizens in non-technical terms.
· Helping Parliament engage CSOs in discussions on the Draft Budget: Prior to FSVC’s assistance, CSOs were rarely involved in parliamentary sessions to discuss the Draft Budget. FSVC provided Parliament methods and tools to promote greater CSO engagement in the budget process, resulting in several CSOs participating in the June 2019 Draft Budget discussions.
· Developing the first local Citizens Budget: Prior to FSVC’s program, local governments in Bangladesh had never published a citizen version of their local budgets. Local government in Bangladesh is mandated to publish its budget online on their website for citizens to be able to access it. However, the budget information presented is too technical for citizens with no financial background. FSVC therefore worked with local CSOs and 11 Union Parishads (small rural administrative and local government units) to develop a user-friendly template of a local Citizens Budget that includes illustrations and graphics.
· 1 Citizens Budget created for the national budget, with input from CSOs.
· 1 Citizens Budget template created for local governments, and one already published online, with input from CSOs.
· 46 CSO representatives trained in advocacy and the local budget process.
· 13 Ministry representatives trained in international standards in open budgets.
· 37 Members of Parliament, including the Speaker of the House, participated in discussions on open budgets and were trained in international standards in open budgets.
· Parliament engaged CSOs in the Draft Budget discussions in June 2019.