Johannesburg - South Africa has taken the first place in an international Open Budget Survey 2010 released recently, beating the United Kingdom, United States, Germany and all Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries.
Second position went to New Zealand, followed by the UK in third place and France in the fourth position. China ranked the second lowest while Saudi Arabia ranked the lowest.
The international Open Budget Survey 2010 is the world's only independent and comparative measure of budget transparency.
It uses criteria mainly developed by the International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions.
The survey covers 94 countries and is undertaken every two years. The Open Budget Index (OBI) score for countries surveyed in 2010 was 42 out of 100. South Africa received a score of 92.
Stanlib economist Kevin Lings said only 20 of the 94 countries had OBI scores above 60 and could be characterised as providing their citizens with enough budget data to enable them to develop a comprehensive understanding of their national budgets.
Only 17 of the countries examined provided comprehensive budget information on policies intended to alleviate poverty.
Another 41 countries provided no information on extra-budgetary funds in their budget proposals.
Lings said South Africa's budget process had improved dramatically over the years, especially after Trevor Manuel became the Finance Minister.
"The documentation has become consistent, transparent, and rich in detail; something that was completely lacking prior to 1994," he said.
"Unfortunately, a transparent budgeting process is a necessary but not sufficient condition for effective government."
He suggested that although the National Treasury allocated the funds and set key expenditure priorities, most departments were failing to deliver acceptable outcomes using the available funds.
Current Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was expected to deliver the 2011/2012 national budget in Parliament, Cape Town on Wednesday.