Page 1529 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

As the Chief Minister has said, the next budget starts today. Mr Speaker, you would be aware that you come out of one process and by about October people are really starting to work up the numbers for the following year. Given the way the budget is done in the Westminster system, there may or not be room for it, but the question concerns this. In the one attempt that we have had so far, it was out there. It was a genuine attempt at consultation. Some of the members did not like it. Some of the members did not like being put on the spot for their input. Some of the community groups absolutely loved it because they got to have a say much earlier. At the end of the day, I suspect that it did not get the response that was hoped for.

Dr Foskey has told us about her experience and what she has found in Brazil. I have done a simple search; numerous websites talk about this. I have got one in South Africa and one in Europe, but I will go to the Wikipedia reference to participatory budgeting. We need to bear in mind that it is Wikipedia, but under the main heading it says:

Various studies have suggested that participatory budgeting results in more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.

In reference to Portalegre in Brazil, it goes on to say:

Nevertheless, most if not all of these studies have based themselves on government collected data, and no independent studies have been performed so far to check the validity of those results.

In a section called “Criticism”, it says:

Participatory budgeting, as it is practiced in Brazil, does not compel the government to actually follow what has been decided by the regional assemblies, does not state how much of the actual budget should be used, or how the assemblies should be composed. Meetings usually attended almost only by militants, of the Workers’ Party and akin organisations. Stacking is commonplace ...

Dr Foskey: I wonder who wrote that.

MR SMYTH: I do not know who wrote it; I am just reading it. I have given you the reference and the context for it. But in the face of the fact that there are no independent studies—

Dr Foskey: There are plenty.

MR SMYTH: Well, you can table those in the general debate.

Dr Foskey: I will; I will be writing quite a lot about that.

MR SMYTH: The article says:

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .