The participatory budget process is a form of direct democracy, which allows citizens to participate in the places they live in any subject and choose which priorities should be conducted by the municipalities. It began in 1989 when a new government came into power and launched a program of tax reform.
Decisions made by participatory budgets get a significant effect on increasing revenue of the municipality. The participation of the population has increased the confidence in Porto Alegre taxes.
Participation is voluntary and anyone can vote in the selection of priorities and choice of representatives.
It is a consultative and transparent process, decisions are documented and published, and are carried out strictly. Everything is presented in an annual report, which allows people to monitor the implementation of the decisions taken. Posters are presented in the city showing how the budget has been spent. The information is also available on the website of the city of Porto Alegre.
Participatory budgeting in the water and sanitation sectors
In relation to water and sanitation issues, participatory budgeting started in 16 locations. The citizens voted what they wanted to prioritize. 3 consultations were organized, with a total of 51 meetings a year.
This process was accompanied by the DMAE (Municipal Department of Water and Sewerage), who subsequently examined the selected priorities and their technical feasibility. On this basis investment plans that require the approval of the Participatory Budgeting Council are prepared.
From here, a number of committees for the monitoring and implementation of the works are established. 38 follow-up committees were formed and 250 studies to examine the expansion of water supply and sanitation were conducted.
It is important to note how this process has helped to increase the coverage of water and sanitation services in Porto Alegre, as it is one of the priorities established by the population. The DMAE provides water to 99.5% of the population and 84% have sewerage connection.
Source: PSIRU, and DMAE. Water in Portoalegre, Brazil. Accountable, effective, sustainable and democratic, 2002