The popular Estonian e-solution for visualizing the annual state budget 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.
The citizens of Armenia’s second-largest city are now able to acquaint themselves in detail with the city’s revenues and expenses, the planned budget and possible changes to it, as well as follow the fulfilment of budget promises. The software is the same used for Estonia’s www.meieraha.eu (“Our Money”).
“Before the visualisation was created, the local city government had not shared overly much information with the public sphere,” said one of the authors of the e-solution, Hille Hinsberg from Praxis, adding that now it is possible to follow up on the city council’s fiscal decisions online.
In addition to providing synoptic overviews, the application also 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 cooperation 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.
Hinsberg told ERR News that for now, Gyumri was a one-off project, but the creators have introduced their budget visualization tool to many other central and eastern European countries and think tanks, as well as the Open Society Foundations network. “Poland and Finland have so far expressed interest,” Hinsberg said, adding that they wish to continue presenting and possibly help other countries and cities make use of their open source application.