From September 2020 to May 2023, with funding from the U.S. Embassy Panama, FSVC implemented a program to assist Panama in strengthening open budgets and anti-corruption. FSVC provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the National Authority on Transparency and Access to Information (ANTAI) and civil society organizations (CSOs). FSVC implemented this program in partnership with Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Libertad Ciudadana – the local Chapter for Transparency International.
FSVC conducted a series of virtual and in-person activities to support the following objectives:
1) Build the capacity of local CSOs to contribute to the national budget process
FSVC trained CSOs in open budget principles, the basics of public financial management and the impact of budget allocations on vulnerable groups, with the aim of empowering CSOs to become more active and effective watchdogs. Across activities, FSVC engaged 54 different CSOs in international best practices in open budgets. This includes women-focused, youth-focused, environment-focused, human rights-focused and access-to-information-focused CSOs.
2) Strengthen the capacity of the Government of Panama in developing and publishing budget documents that are of interest to citizens
FSVC assisted the MEF in drafting and publishing two key budget documents for the first time in Panama:
- The Citizens Budget, a non-technical representation of the budget law that is understandable by all citizens, was published in March 2022
- The Mid-Year Review, an evaluation of the budget execution six months into the budget year as compared to the original plan described in the budget law, was published in September 2022
These documents are available here.
3) Increase citizen participation in the budget process
FSVC coordinated multiple public-private roundtables to facilitate constructive dialogue between CSOs and the MEF on budget issues. These include a roundtable for CSOs to provide feedback to the MEF on the draft Citizens Budget, and a roundtable in May 2022 on how to initiate Panama’s joining of the Open Budget Survey.
FSVC and its program partner also created an open budget web-portal to provide easy-to-understand information on open budgets in Panama.
- FSVC engaged 54 different CSOs from across Panama in international best practices in budget transparency.
- FSVC trained 37 representatives from the MEF in key budget documents and open budget principles.
- FSVC supported the development and publication of two key budget documents: the Citizens Budget and the Mid-Year Review.
- FSVC organized 4 public-private forums to improve dialogue between government and civil society on budget issues.