The Myanmar Government earlier this month explained its budget to citizens for the first time.

The Citizen’s Budget shows the the government’s resources and commitment to citizens. For the first time, it also includes simple explanations of the government’s fiscal policy, like the government’s debts and its plans to address the deficits.

“The Citizens Budget was released before, but the public couldn’t easily understand it,” U Zaw Pe Win, principal at the Human Development Institute and a budget expert told the Myanmar Times. “Now we can know clearly how much is spent on education or the budgetary details of other sectors by looking at this simplified version,” he added.

During the country’s 49 years of military rule, citizens had no access to public finance information and most are not familiar with how the budget process.

“Budget data was often considered a state secret and in the initial years of the democratic transition, accessing such information still required high level contacts and a long and tedious approval process,” writes Bing Bonoan, programme manager, at the Asia Foundation.

The foundation along with the Open Myanmar Institute have the country’s first online budget dashboard. The tool shows summaries of the state and regional budgets. It also allows simple analyses, like comparing department budgets across states and federal government spending over time.

It currently has data only for the 2016 federal and some state budgets, and the 2013 state budgets. The institute will continue updating previous budgets as the data is made available to current government officials, Bonoan writes.

Image by Joe Le Merou; CC BY 2.0