Budget Transparency and Participation in South Korea
chapter in Open Budgets: The Political Economy of Transparency, Participation, and Accountability, edited by Sanjeev Khagram, Archon Fung, Paolo de Renzio (Brookings Institution Press, 2013), paper delivered at the Harvard's Ash Institute (February 2011)
27 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2014
Date Written: May 2012
Korea can be considered a success story in terms of budget transparency as well as economic development. According to the Open Budget Index, published by the International Budget Partnership, Korea is one of the top performers in budget transparency in the Asia Pacific region (IBP 2010). During the authoritarian era in Korea, however, budget information as well as overall government information was not widely shared. Secrecy, rather than transparency, was deemed necessary for efficiency. The Korean case highlights the important role of democracy in promoting fiscal transparency. We first assess the positive achievements and limitations in budget transparency and participation in Korea. Then, we conduct historical process tracing in order to identify key milestones and watershed moments that allowed for breakthroughs. We provide detailed accounts of how fiscal democracy has been institutionalized through various reforms. We further attempt to explain the factors and mechanisms that have facilitated these processes and examine the roles of various actors, such as presidents, legislators, the judiciary, and in particular, civil society organizations and the media. We also analyze how budget information was used and what effects enhanced budget transparency had on budgetary priorities, government efficiency, and corruption. We conclude, emphasizing the role of civil society organizations in promoting and maintaining virtuous circles of fiscal democracy.
Keywords: budget transparency, fiscal democracy, open budget index, South Korea
JEL Classification: O23, O53, P43, P52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation