The fiscal decentralization process taking place in Vietnam offers opportunities to engage with local government. Oxfam in Vietnam has worked to promote transparency and accountability in budget processes by increasing citizens’ participation, and especially women’s participation. Oxfam has also increasingly become an influencing actor by promoting coalition-building and multi-stakeholder dialogues, and by demonstrating its credibility on technical issues such as tax incentives. The Fiscal Accountability for Inequality Reduction–Even It Up (FAIR-EIU) programme in Vietnam is an excellent example of work on both the tax and budget sides of the fiscal system that puts active citizenship at its heart.
LOCAL BUDGET MONITORING
To strengthen the inclusiveness, representation, transparency and accountability of local government, Oxfam in Vietnam has been using participatory planning and budget monitoring approaches to engage citizens in local government budget processes. The specific objectives of the local budget monitoring work that started in 2015 were: • To empower civil society organizations (CSOs) and communities to effectively influence public budget processes; • To promote the participation of women in local budget processes, to boost their confidence and to make them aware of their rights; • To work in coalition with other CSOs to enhance development outcomes for women and men from marginalized communities.
This budget monitoring approach is built on previous work by Oxfam in Vietnam, which helps citizens in different communities to engage in local planning processes. As a result of effective engagement with local governments and communities, citizens’ voice was more reflected in planning; however, often there was no budget allocation for the needs and priorities raised by citizens within those planning processes. Oxfam in Vietnam decided to bring together several CSOs to discuss how citizens’ perspectives and views could be incorporated into local budgets, and how to improve transparency. These CSOs (Centre for Development and Integration (CDI), Action to the Community Development Center (ACDC), Center for Community Empowerment (CECEM), Centre for Education Promotion and Community Empowerment for Women (CEPEW), Vietnam Economic Policy Research Institute (VEPR), and Health Economic Research Centre HERC) now work together in the Budget Transparency, Accountability and People Participation (BTAP) coalition, both at national and local (provincial) levels.
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