One can argue that one of the most important processes a citizen can get involve in is the making of its national budget. To be able to decide where money goes, how it is being used, where the priorities are, is a powerful tool to influence resource distribution and access to public services. Access to information in Afghanistan is bureaucratic and difficult. When confronted with an information requests, many civil servants ask “why do you want to know? This information is for the government, what do you want with it?”
The role of citizens in the governance process is still not identified. Civil Servant positions are seen as prestigious and a mark of status. Although mid and high level officials might have a wider social awareness; low level civil servants, which have higher interaction with the population, see themselves as enforcers of government interests rather than servants to civilians.
The Ministry of Finance is one of the few examples where access to information is increasing and much is being done to improve budget transparency. To have access to information is however not enough. Citizens need to make use of the information available and hold institutions accountable. Budget provincial hearings are for the first time feasible and civil society organizations need to make use of this opportunity to bring more transparency into the financial management systems in Afghanistan. Citizens’ Budget Report is now available but it needs citizens and media to move that knowledge from latent to active.