The popular Estonian e-solution for visualising the annual state budget – www.meieraha.eu – has expanded into the international arena. With guidance from the think tank Praxis, the interactive budget-visualization was implemented for the first time in the Armenian city of Gyumri.
At www.gyumribudget.am citizens are now able to acquaint themselves in detail with the city’s revenues and expenses, the planned budget and with the possible changes to the budget, as well as follow the fulfilment of budget promises.
“Before the visualisation was created, the local city government had not shared overly much information with the public sphere,” says one of the authors of the e-solution, Hille Hinsberg from Praxis, and adds that now it is possible to follow up on the city council’s fiscal decisions online via links to the City Council’s decisions that concern changes in the budget.
Hinsberg praises the tenacity of local activists who have maintained dialogue with the City Council in order to make the information accessible for everyone. Under circumstances in which the members of the voluntary sector have to face detainment from time to time for vocalising their goals, fruitful coalition with the rulers bears great value.
At the recently held opening event the city officials extended their assurances that they would continue to share the data with the public and engage the citizens in the planning of the annual budget.
In addition to providing synoptic overviews, the application now allows to raise questions about expenses and to instigate online discussions. The replies and commentary about political decisions as reflected in the budget will be provided by the experts of a local think tank, Compass. Compass is a voluntary association that focuses on economic and open civic society analyses.
In co-operation with the team of Compass, Gyumri’s budget-application was built by Hille Hinsberg from Praxis, programmer Konstantin Tretjakov, and web designer Tanel Kärp. Setting up the application was supported by The Open Society Foundation of Armenia.
Gyumri, formerly known as Leninakan, is the second largest city of Armenia.