Social participation in the control and supervision of government spending is the purpose of the Law of Social Responsibility (LSR), a project that is headed by civil society organizations and which will be launched at the World Social Forum, in January, 2005, in Porto Alegre.
The initiative, which still exists only on paper, emerged from society and seeks to provoke a national debate to assume legal form.
The proposal is aimed at holding government officials accountable for carrying out the social goals and commitments established in education, health, job creation, infrastructure, and other areas.
The proposal was presented in 2003 during the Brazilian Social Forum, in Belo Horizonte, by Ruda Ricci, sociologist, doctor of social sciences, and professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais.
According to the text, “It represents a strategic formulation that attempts to outline a general project of social control over the Brazilian State, based on civil society.”
The criteria for the preparation of the law should sustain a new type of social contract involving and guiding the actions of not just the State but other institutions that are public in nature and which develop projects in partnership with the State, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations in the public interest (OSCIPs), and unions.
Proof of this is evidenced by the fact that, to endow the project with real dimensions, the Brazilian Budget Forum (FBO) – an organization that comprises 35 civil society entities and is responsible for the formulation of the project – plans to promote a national campaign to publicize the law.
The foundation of the LSR is organized around participatory planning and social control. The first practical step is the determination of goals in accordance with municipal or state priorities.
These priorities should be set in terms of the basic indices of social development, evaluated by organized society and the legislature, together with the mayors and governors.
“Let’s assume that a certain municipality has a 13% illiteracy rate. The idea of the LSR is to use these national statistics to get the municipality to define its priority and velocity for reducing this index,” Ricci said. Failure to obey the law could even result in loss of mandate.
Translator: David Silberstein