Part 2 – One Problem Different Points of View – Budgets in different countries
The students will be given newspaper articles on budgets in different countries and how the money is spent differently in each country. The newspaper articles will also include some famous cases of fraud. After reading the newspaper articles, each group will create a list of tough key questions to ask financial advisors about the budgets they have created and why they choose to disperse the money the way they did.
Public expenditures and the state budget are very important and are in the public's interest. It is important to provide citizens access to public finances and funds, where indicators are easily accessed, shared, and used in a cost effective way. By controlling the expenditures, irregularities and fraud, the possibility of corruption could be avoided. This teaching resource aims to engage students in the process of public expenditures and allows them to understand the irregularities and abuses that occur during the process of budget disbursement.
An important element of the government and for which the public is concerned is the transparency of the expenditures in the state budget. The best way to promote accountability is through increasing the transparency of the public finances, the quality of the information produced and delivered, accountability and participation by local communities, and also by increasing the positive pressure on elected officials to improve services offered to citizens. Transparency on how the tax payers’ money is being spent on government grants, administrative services and infrastructure investment is weak. Freedom of information to the citizens, and other groups of interest such as media still remains a big issue to be addressed thoroughly.
Therefore, students are asked to undertake a field trip to the local governmental offices to analyze whether there were irregularities during the budget dispersion or whether expenses were incurred. The students will be engaged in the evaluation of data and research, as well as in the process of interviewing key officials. They will have the opportunity of investigating a topic of their choosing (i.e. local public expenditures, central public expenditures, tender/selection, governmental officials’ travel costs, etc.). The topic along with the research will be agreed in collaboration with the lecturer and will be presented to the key stakeholders once an evaluation of the budget has taken place.