Economy

‘India budget weak in public participation; limited in transparency’

The country’s performance in terms of public participation and budget oversight by the legislature was rated “weak” in the survey

 
By Karnika Bahuguna
Last Updated: Friday 26 February 2016 | 07:04:03 AM
India scored 19 out of 100 in terms of public participation in the budget formulation cycle as against the global average of 25
Credit:PIB
India scored 19 out of 100 in terms of public participation in the budget formulation cycle as against the global average of 25
Credit:PIB India scored 19 out of 100 in terms of public participation in the budget formulation cycle as against the global average of 25 Credit:PIB

As Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gears up to present the Union Budget 2016-17 (April-March), it is worth noting that an international survey of budgets of over a 100 countries points out that India provides “limited” budget information in the public domain.

The Open Budget Survey 2015, released by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in September last year, gave India 46 out of 100 on the transparency count.

According to Professor Biswajit  Dhar, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, budget in India should be made more participatory with wider public consultation which will automatically lead to transparency.
 
"There is a bit of a lacuna in terms of policy making in general. Public views are sought on only some legislations. Even before the budget, the finance minister meets industry, economists, NGOs and so on. There should be wider consultation in the run-up to the budget. For instance, the government can create a portal and ask the public for key concerns which require government intervention," he added.

The survey consisted of 140 factual questions evaluating three aspects of budget accountability—transparency, public participation and oversight comprising legislature and audit.

The country’s performance in terms of public participation and budget oversight by the legislature was rated “weak” in the survey.

India scored 19 out of 100 in terms of public participation in the budget formulation cycle as against the global average of 25.

The survey also examined the extent to which legislatures and supreme audit institutions are able to provide effective oversight of budgets.

In terms of budget oversight by the legislature, India scored 39 out of 100. However, budget oversight from the Comptroller and Auditor General of India was rated adequate with a score of 75 out of 100.

The International Budget Partnership collaborates with civil society organisations around the world to analyse, monitor, and influence government budget processes, institutions and outcomes.

Recommendations

The survey recommended that India should have a pre-budget statement and raise the comprehensiveness of the Citizens’ Budget.

Citizens’ budgets are aimed at presenting key public finance information to the general public in an easy-to-understand language and visual elements to help non-specialist audiences comprehend information.

The survey also recommended institutionalisation of publication of all documents, including the mid-year review and the year-end report, in a timely manner.

To improve public participation, the survey recommended the country should set up credible and effective mechanisms, including public hearings, focus groups and surveys for accommodating a range of public perspectives relating to budget matters.

It also suggested legislative hearings on the budget of specific ministries and government departments during which testimony from the public is heard.

India should have a specialised budget research office for the legislature, the survey added. Also, the legislature should be consulted before the spending of contingency funds that were not identified in the Enacted Budget it recommended.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Related Blog:

Deconstructing Union Budget 2015-16: what has changed?

Union budget 2015: Children left asking for their dues, as ever

Related Story:

Wind energy industry in a tizzy over Jaitley's budget speech

Union Budget 2015-16 reduces funds for SCs and STs

Union Budget: challenges of public provisioning in India

IEP Resources:

An economic and functional classification of the central government budget 2013-2014

Restructuring of central grants - Balancing fiscal autonomy and fiscal space

We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.

  • I am quite impressed at the outset about the future possibilities of more Accountability & Transparency that are likely to happen in the whole process! Let me go through the details and understand properly before offering any tangible suggestions in a humble way. I have seen things happening at the City of Vallejo in California, USA, through my Brother's active participation in PB Initiatives. I am keen that it gets implementated in every Town & Cities of India, particularly in Karnataka!! Let me try to know what is happening in Sydney Australia, where I am camping at the moment!!

    Posted by: Guruprasad C Bharadwaj | 2 years ago | Reply