Participatory budgeting is one of the most effective tools to involve citizens directly. Decision-makers recognized that local population is the best at describing their needs, what changes they would like to experience in their surroundings. Meanwhile, this method is an efficient mean to ensure transparency and accountability, if it actually works in a transparent way. During the participatory budgeting process, local citizens make proposals about what municipalities should spend specific shares of the local budget on. After this, residents vote on potential initiatives. Eventually, the most popular proposals will win, and these will be implemented by the municipality. In the next planning period, the needs of the people will be surveyed again.
Transparency International Hungary was co-operating with three local municipalities in the framework of its project running from November 2021 to September 2022. Each municipality has a different background, participative practice, and experience in planning participatory budgets. As part of this initiative funded by the Embassy of The United States, TI Hungary provided free professional support to the municipalities of Szentendre, Óbuda-Békásmegyer and Terézváros.
The aim of this project was to improve the transparency and publicity of the local budgetary processes. To achieve this aim, we supported sharing experiences among participating municipalities, we organized brainstorming workshops supporting the development of feasible proposals in the three locations and on-site visits to get familiar with the implemented and potential proposals together with the participating municipalities. Meanwhile the filtering of proposals was facilitated by public councils in Szentendre and in Terézváros. During the project, it was also important what the population thinks about the community budget, what changes could be included in the next programs. TI Hungary conducted an opinion survey voluntarily and anonymously among the residents participating in the project and the municipal employees.