72 Frequently Asked Questions about Participatory Budgeting(3) - 参与式工具箱 - 城市社区参与治理资源,ccpg


72 Frequently Asked Questions about Participatory Budgeting(3)

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Mundo Novo and Porto Alegre - Two cities which debate 100 per cent of their budget with the population  


In Porto Alegre, 100 per cent of the budget is considered participatory, because the Participatory Budget Council (COP in Portuguese), made up of elected delegates, examines and comments on the complete budget (before it is sent to the Municipal Council). The part debated in assemblies  

in which all citizens participate equals 100 per cent of the resources available for investment, which varies year to year and is more than 10 per cent of the total budget.  


This is also the case in Mundo Novo, a small municipality of  16,000 in  Mato Grosso do Sul, Bra- zil, where100 per cent of the budget is subject to discussion. However, in this case, as opposed  

to Porto Alegre, this is done in a direct way and through open town meetings. This is the most  

"advanced" form of participatory budgeting and shows that the entire municipal budget can be placed for publicdebate - including the Mayors salary.  


Source: Base document (op cit.) - See digital library (PB Toolkit)  



Box 9:  

Proportion of capital budget debated in the PB  

(1997-2003) in 103 Brazilian municipalities.  

Proportion of capital  

budget debated  

From 1 to 10%   

From 11 to 20%   

From 21 to 30%   

From 31 to 40%   

From 41 to 50%   

From 51 to 60%

From 61 to 70%   

From 71 to 80%   

From 81 to 90%   

From 91 to 99%  


Does not debate resources No response TOTAL  

Number of municipalities  














Percentage (%) of all  














20   What percentage of the total municipal budget is submit- ted for consideration in the PB?16  

The Participatory Budget in general, and particularly in Brazil,represents bet- ween 2 per cent and 10 per cent of the executed budget, that is to say the amount that was actually spent, which tends to be less than the planned budget of the pre- vious year. These values represent a variable proportion of the investment budget of the municipality. Nevertheless, few cities put more than 10 per cent of

their total budget to debate, and very few, like Mundo Novo or Porto Alegre, discuss, at least technically, 100 per cent of the budget           (See Box 8). At the other extreme, in so- me cities, especially in Europe, the Participatory Budgeting process has less than 1 per cent of the municipal budget at its disposal.  


21 What proportion of the municipal investment budget is placed under discussion?  

  This varies between 100 per cent of the total investment or capital budget and a few  

per cent (See Box 9). It can be said, then, that   some Participatory Budgets are with a capital "P" while some are     more correctly designated with a lowercase "p". 

22 Is there an optimal percentage of the municipal budget that should be submitted for public discussion?  

No, this depends on each local situation and in particular on the political will of the municipality and the pressure of its citizens.     In some cities this percenta-  

ge is steadily increasing year after year, as the experience is consolidated and parti- cipants, both politicians and the people, gain confidence. Nevertheless, the greater the   percentage of the budget debated, the greater the experience and   interest  

of the citizens.  

23 What is the origin of the resources placed under debate?  

While the origin of the resources in general is the municipal budget, it is important to note the following typical situations:  

The most common case is that the amount to be discussed is part of the global bud- get (either the investment budget or more), clearly identified as the Participatory Bud- get.  

In several cities, in particular in the Andean region, the PB deals with a percentage  

of the funds transferred from the central             government (for example, in Pe- ru, the so-called Municipal Compensation Fund). In this case, the debates may be subject to conditions tied to these funds.  

In some countries, the central government transfers are subject to a process simi- lar to Participatory Budgeting. For example, in Kenya,17 the Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plan (LASDAP) is an instrument to involve the communities in the

decisions related to the use of the national-to-local transfers.  

The funds debated in the Participatory Budget can also be limited to resources as- signed to one area, for instance social welfare or education. Discussion can also be limited to resources assigned to a specific programme, for example, to rehabilita-  

te a square, revive the historic centre or build a rambla (St. Feliú de Lobregat, Spain).  

In these cases the resources can originate at the national, provincial or municipal le- vels.  

To date, the resources under debate, at least in Latin America, are essentially "en- dogenous", meaning national and local resources, not loans or international grants.  



The relationship between Participatory Budgeting and fiscal performance  


In Campinas, Recife and Cuenca, the collection of taxes increased significantly in just a few years, while in Porto Alegre, the level of arrears in property taxes declined from 20 per cent to 15 per cent.   The effect was logical - in less than 10 years, property taxes went from being 6 per cent to nearly 12 per cent of current revenue of the municipality. In Mundo Novo, Brazil, the reduc- tion in non-payment of taxes also stands out.  


In the municipalities of Ilo and Villa El Salvador, Peru, the distribution of the Participatory Budget resources by zone is directly tied to the level of tax arrears. While direct, tangible evidence of the effect of the "linked tax criteria" to improvements in the level of tax non-payment is lacking, it is clear in the Municipality of Ilo that "the process permits greater awareness about city resources, their limits and their origins."  


Source: Case Studies, VES and Ilo - See illustrative cases (PB Toolkit) 


24 What is the impact of the Participatory Budget on fiscal collec- tion and municipal revenue?18  

In Latin America there is clear evidence that the process of Participatory Budgeting brings with it an increase in fiscal collections (of taxes and other fees) and a reduc- tion in evasion. The reasons studied have to do with the transparency of public ad- ministration which is implicit in the Participatory Budget. The visibility in the short term of the public works and services resulting from the PB also tend to   modify the civic fiscal culture.  

25 Do all demands of the citizens result in public works and ser- vices?19  

No. In general, the number of demands and proposed projects and their correspon- ding values are greater than the available resources. For this reason, the criteria for prioritisation and the process of selecting these priorities each year is crucial. A de- mand that was not   selected among priorities for the current year can be presented the next year. In some cities, the number of projects that will be financed is fixed beforehand, for example, 14 for each sub-region of Belo Horizonte.  

In addition, some of the demands of the population may fall outside the jurisdiction of  

the local government and depend on the prerogatives of regional or national authori- ties. In these cases, in general, the demands are not accepted.  

26 How are the resources distributed within a city? By sec-  

tor? By region?20  

The resources can be assigned in two ways. The first way is to  assign resour- ces by region or sub-regions, at timeswith a specific enhanced allocation for the poo- rest areas (favelas, slums, villas   miserias, etc.). The second type ofassignment is by sector. These sectoral priorities reflect the priorities of a city for a year in parti- cular ("Health for All","People-oriented transportation", "A Future for our children, so- cial inclusion, urbanism and the environment" etc.), and can change from year to year. It is important to understand this double allocation system in order to unders- tand how a PB is constructed based on sector-specific and territorial (neighbour- hood, district) meetings, plenaries or fora. (See Box 11: Thematic Assemblies in Ica-pui, 2004).21

27 How are the budgeting criteria defined?  

This definition is the key for the proper development of the process. There are no set or predetermined criteria. The criteria for assigning resources by region and sub-region and by sector have to be defined by each city in a participatory

way (See Box 12 for examples). It is a key step in the process, in which social organizations and citizens in general begin to take ownership of the process, understand it and can explain it to others. Each city uses one or more criteria to assign resources. Among the most common are: the population of a certain region, the priorities (housing, streets, education, health, sewage, etc.) selected by the inhabitants, unmet basic needs (water, electricity, sanitation), the degree of participation in the process, the degree of tax evasion or arrears, the attention received during previous years, the impact of a project on the community and the impact for disad vantaged or vulnerable groups. Other criteria exist as well.22   

These criteria can have different weights. For example, if the criteria for the geographicdistribution of resources for a city were population and percentage of unmet basic needs (UBN - access to potable water, percentage of households with garbage collection services, housing adequacy, etc.), it could happen that City A, decides to give the same weight to each criterion and City B decides to give three times as much weight to the UBN criteria. In the latter case, more resources would flow to the more disadvantaged areas.  

These criteria are not set in stone. Between cycles or during a cycle, the delegates or the councillors elected through the Participatory Budget, at times together with the local government, can revise the criteria and decide to add a new criterion, remove another or modify their relative weights. These decisions will be applied in the following year and are codified in the rules of procedure or municipal regulations. This process demonstrates the evolutionary, adjustable and generally flexible character of Participatory Budgeting.   

In addition to the use of weighted criteria, one very important pedagogical ins- pedagogicaltrument used in Brazilian municipalities (but not exclusively) is the Caravans ofPriorities. During these "caravans", the elected delegates visit the different areas of the city to see the identified demands first-hand. This makes it possible for them to visualise the different levels of need and above all gives greater     legitimacy to the technical criteria presented. It also allows the neighbourhood dele-gates to open up to the city in its entirety and to the needs beyond their neighbourhood  



28 Where are Participatory Budgets decided, and who has the de-cision-making power?  

In general, and in particular in the Brazilian system, the initial decision on the lines of the budget and the amounts to be debated is voted upon by the City Council (or equivalent body). Similarly, the proposed budget matrix which results from the Participatory Budget process is ultimately ratified by the Council. Experience shows that infew cases does the Council veto or change the proposed budget matrix.   

Formulation of the budget matrix on the basis of territorial and sectoral demands is one of the unique features of the Participatory Budget. The first level of prioritisation of demands happens in the assemblies. The second instance is the final agglomeration and prioritisation of those demands. In cities where a Participatory Budget Council exists, those councillors have that responsibility.   

In cities where participation happens through social organizations (community boards and associations) or political entities (i.e. parish boards in Ecuador), the final decisions take place at those levels.   

In some countries, in cases where the resources to be debated are only those of specific programmes or sectors, decisions are arrived at together with the respective officials of the Mayoral Administration and the Municipality (Secretariats), and do not pass through the City Council.  

29 Is the Participatory Budget limited to planning short-term expenditures?  

Yes, it is limited to the allocation of all or part of the annual municipal budget. This is characteristic of the process and also a limitation. Nevertheless, the cycle for the carrying out of the expenditures can be two years, to facilitate the implementation process. Some cities have Participatory Budgets every other year.   

The case of Montevideo, where since 1990 citizens have been invited through their elected Neighbourhood Councils to decide on the five-year budget, is relatively rare.23 Still, some Brazilian cities discuss their Multi-year Investment Plans with the population, which establishes priorities every four years  

30 Is there more and better participation when the municipal re- sources to be assigned are greater? In this sense,is having few resources subject to discussion an obstacle or a conditio- ning factor?  

It is clear that the larger the budget under discussion (in absolute and

percentage terms), the better for the citizens. Nevertheless, there is no evidence of a direct correlation between the level of resources under debate and the level of participation, in qualitative or quantitative terms. To have relatively small amounts under discussion is not an obstacle or conditioning factor (see Box 13). What matters is that the amount is transparent, regardless of how limited it is, the reasons why it is limited are clearly explained and understood, and the public defines clear rules of the game for its allocation.  

31 Does the Participatory Budgeting process only discuss reve- nue from municipalitys own sources?  

While Participatory Budgets usually cover the municipality’s own sources of revenue only (i.e. taxes, fees, levies, service charges etc.), some initiatives and experiencesalso point to discussion and prioritisation of public expenditure made from regional and central government sources. Currently there is a debate over whether or not national and international financing should be discussed and approved within the Participatory Budgeting process. There are still very few cases in which international finance (i.e. loans or credits) is approved by the Participatory Budget Council.   

Community organizations and sometimes NGOs administer the public resources assigned to the projects and priorities voted upon.  

Box 13:  

Experiences from cities  

with low per capita resources  

In Villa El Salvador, a poor district of the Lima Metropolitan Area, the PB process got underway in 2000 with a very limited amount, of the order of US$600,000, for a population of 300,000 (less than US$2 per capita). In spite of the small numbers, and in a context rife with serious problems (uncollected trash, for example), the process was very enriching and the levels of participation were among the highest in the region: 25 per cent of the population over 25 years of age partic- ipated. (1)  

The experience of the Young Peoples Participatory Budget in Barra Mansa, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, indicates a similar conclusion. The children and youth participated without having a clear notion of the amounts that were going to be authorised by the municipality. The first year it was 180,000 Reals, equivalent to US$180,000. The interesting aspect of the process was that7,000 children and youth participated and the proposals were very diverse. It might have been imagined that the low value of the budget would cause tensions among the youth and the dele- gates. One could also have imagined that they would become disillusioned upon seeing that their projects were not selected, and would therefore not want to participate further. This was in fact not the case, and the young people continued to participate actively. The tensions were minimal, because the rules of the game were clear.  



(1) See PB Toolkit: Case Study VES  

Source: Proceedings from the international seminar "Participatory Budgeting in the Bolivian Context", Y. Cabannes.  

32 Are there processes to ensure accountability in the Participa- tory Budget?24  

In general, yes.   

These processes can be classified into three modalities:   

. Public hearings (annual or more often) in which the Mayor and the municipal decision-makers explain to the population the use and destination of the total budget.   

. Brochures or newspaper inserts which provide detailed information, by region and by sector, about each approved public work and service, its value and the progress made in its implementation. In the best practices, these brochures are distributed wi24 For more information see question 41 of the Fact Sheets on Illustrative Cities. dely to each family25 and are the main source of information on the concrete results of the Participatory Budget.  

. Placing the financial information and the results of the Participatory Budget on the website of the Municipality. A visit to these websites (see Box 2) suggests that the Participatory Budget occupies an important place on these sites. It also shows that the Participatory Budget improves

the system of communication and informationsharing with the citizenry.26  

33 How much does the process cost the municipality and how are these costs covered?  

The Participatory Budget implies a series of costs for the local government. To implement a Participatory Budget properly, four types of resources are needed: a) municipal staff committed and trained to implement the process, including being willing to work nights and weekends, b) means of transportation to be able to circulate throughout the neighbourhoods and transport the municipal staff, c) ample communication resources in order to share information with the public, d) personnel for the technical, economic and budgetary feasibility studies of the prioritised demands. In addition, to accelerate the process and ensure its quality, it is important to have resources to transport people who live far from the meeting places and to train functionaries as well as citizens, and in particular delegates, in the Participatory Budgeting process. Cities that have not planned for these costs have, in general, faced difficulties and, in some cases, have even suspended the activity. Therefore, it is important to do a cost/benefit analysis before deciding to implement a Participatory Budget.   

The cost/benefit analysis must consider the contributions of the communities and the leveraging of the social capital produced, particularly through their participation projects (see FAQ 47 for more details). If the process remains only at the level of consultation, the costs to the municipality are greater because the local administration has to repeat the discussions twice: once in the Participatory Budget and again internally in the administration. If the Participatory Budget bodies can make decisions (deliberative power), this can save staff time and costs because the decision-making process is shorter and simpler than the traditional bureaucratic process.   

It is difficult to give indications of absolute numbers, given the variations of the costs of personnel, transportation and the production of communication materials in each place. By way of example, the city of Porto Alegre (po p. 1.4  million) sets aside over US$ 250,000 annually for the implementation of its Participatory Budget.  

This expense can easily be covered in poor cities through international cooperation. Unfortunately, at the present time, it can be observed that international resources are often accompanied by technocratic orientations "from above" and requirements which may distort the local process and creative solutions of the citizens and local governments themselves.  



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