Interviewee Profile - Rodrigue Sèwènan Chaou
Rodrigue Sèwènan Chaou’s career has always been with the Budget Directorate-General for the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He first joined the Assistant’s Office of the Director-General for Budget, of which he remained the head of for ten years, consolidating the success of numerous internal and cross-cutting reforms. In January 2014, he was appointed Director of the budget preparation, where he was in charge of the effective implementation of the new Organic Law on the Finance Acts adopted in September 2013. In January 2016, he was appointed as Director-General for Budget, putting fiscal and organisational reforms as well as the strengthening of the right to budget information at the heart of his agenda. Since then, he has cleared the way for its Directorate’s ISO 90001:2015 certification, opened up the budget process to civil society and ensured Benin’s accession to CABRI, GIFT... He seeks to make Benin a model country in terms of budget transparency, public participation and accountability.
The challenge of transparency in Benin
Since his appointment as Director-General for Budget in 2016, Rodrigue Chaou has made fiscal transparency his priority. This appointment coincided with the context of a crisis of confidence among citizens, which resulted in poor tax revenue collection.
Rodrigue was convinced that the problem of poor revenue collection could be accounted for, by the lack of citizens’ participation in the budget process. He took the opportunity of this crisis to initiate an ambitious fiscal transparency reform process. It is assisted by a determined team and with the support of international partners, that the Budget Directorate-General has defined, together with civil society, an action plan intended to improve citizen participation in the budget. Furthermore, the citizen debate which resulted from this has now been included in the budget calendar, involving a wide range of representatives from civil society. As Rodrigue pointed out, this is because: « We are not afraid of the reaction of others. I believe that it is through divergence that one can build unity and consensus.