This paper examines the impact and significance of independent budget analysis and advocacy initiatives that are designed to improve budget transparency and the poverty focus of government expenditure priorities. It draws on case study research of six budget groups in Brazil, Croatia, India, Mexico, South Africa, and Uganda, which include non-governmental organisations, research institutions and social movements.
The findings demonstrate that civil society budget initiatives contribute to improvements in the transparency of budgetary decisions and the budget process, increased budget awareness and literacy, and deeper engagement in the budget process on the part of legislators, the media and civil society organisations. While the structure of the budget process makes substantial changes in expenditure priorities difficult to achieve, budget groups directly contribute to positive impacts on budget allocations and improvedimplementation, thereby increasing the accountability of decision-makers.
Tracking of budgetary expenditures and impacts was also found to be effective in ensuring effective utilisation of education and health expenditures. Increased budget allocations and improved utilisation of public funds that benefit poor and disadvantaged groups can ensure greater equity in budget priorities and further social justice objectives. The activities of budget groups strengthen democracy by fostering accountability, enhancing transparency and deepening participation and voice.