In the Indische Buurt, a neighbourhood in the Eastern district of Amsterdam, participatory budgeting consists of two coinciding streams. On the one hand there is a community-initiated stream that practices budget monitoring (checking the municipal budgets and formulating own priorities), and on the other hand a municipality-initiated stream focusing on the neighbourhood budget instrument (an online web application providing financial data on the level of the neighbourhood to the public). Taken together, they make for more budget transparency and accountability on the local level and strengthen participatory democracy by increasing the awareness, knowledge and influence of citizens regarding their neighbourhood.
In 2011, after a reversed development exchange program with a NGO in Brazil, the Centre for Budget monitoring and Citizen participation (CBB) was founded in the Indische Buurt. It was established by two social entrepreneurs, who were supported by active citizens and social workers. Since 2012, the CBB organizes a yearly round of budget monitoring sessions. These sessions provide citizens with the necessary know-how and practicing space to prioritise needs, monitor public expenditures and check the budget forecast as well as the annual accounts of their neighbourhood. Parallel to these developments, the neighbourhood budget instrument was initiated by two civil servants and an Alderman.
In 2015 the budget monitoring method was integrated in the process of drawing up the area plan for the Indische Buurt, a formal administrative document of concrete actions for the following year.
After rejecting a first invitation to participate in the first iteration of budget monitoring the district municipality of Amsterdam East decided in 2012 to become involved. Their involvement is critical for budget monitoring to reach one of its main aims.
In 2013 the CBB let go of the human rights perspective. To the trainer this perspective was crucial for him to support budget monitoring and he also perceives this change of direction as a form of institutionalization where the tool looses its radical potential.
The neighbourhood budget instrument is an online web application allowing citizens of the city of Amsterdam to track the spending of public money in their neighbourhoods. It was developed in co-creation with the center of budgetmonitoring and citizenparticipation.
In march 2014 the district municipalities of Amsterdam were abandoned from the governance model of Amsterdam resulting in a centralized governance model. While aiming for an 'area focused' way of working, this implied also a large administrative reorganization
In November 2015 a citizen and civil servant formed duo's to cooperate on a policy theme. This new working practice changed the way the government makes their area plans and involves a discussion on content between two actors who have not done that before.
In December 2015 a resolution was accepted saying that a part of the budget of 2017 falls under the responsibility of the citizens. The real turning point is yet to come, but this felt as a political backing for all the hard work done in the Indische Buurt.
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