Friday, November 09, 2012

The top-secret

The IIPM Think Tank proposes that the Indian budget should not only be a societal budget, but also be a platform wherein the contribution of aam admi should be allowed

R. P. Chidambaram in his last budget, quoted Tamil saint, Tiruvalluvar, and said that if ploughmen keep their hands folded, even sages claiming renunciation cannot find salvation. But he seems to be half prepared and seems to overlook those millions of farmers who are forced to keep their hands folded perennially, even for the most basic rights & necessities.

According to International Budget Project (IBP), participatory Budgeting provides a citizen a platform wherein they deliberate and negotiate over the allocation of public resources. Conventionally, civil organisation and social sector experts have been excluded from the budget preparation process in India. The budget seems to just represent the ruling party(ies). Even the Opposition doesn’t take initiative to have a pre-budget consultation or to put forward their memorandum or people’s voice before the FM. According to Open Budget Index, a recent study by the IBP, India provides citizens with “some information” on the Central government’s budget, while some countries, such as France, the US, South Africa, New Zealand, the UK and Slovenia, provide “extensive information” to their citizens.

UPA Government restarted the dis-investment process by permitting sell-off of power sector PSUs, through IPOs, in order to raise Rs.1,500 crores. However, this policy decision never got any mention in the budget speech but was mentioned in the credit column of budget balance sheet. In the last budget, FM announced the 22.5% increase in gross budgetary support for Central plan, but didn’t even mention anything about the state plans (wherein the increase in gross budgetary support for the state plans is just 8.2%), which further reveals the horrifying part of the story that 14.3% of Central gross budgetary support increase will actually be funded by the state resources.

The analysis and report by IBP depicts that India’s budget provides only limited information to the public and even to the Parliament. India does not even have the tradition of disclosing the pre-budget statement The study clearly shows that there is enough room for further improvement towards sharing budget information with the stake holders to ensure an informed participation.

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2012.

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