A national consultation on ‘Budget Transparency and Accountability,’ the first of its kind in the country, has made a call for creation of a budget analysis and advocacy network and bringing in accountability on ‘how people’s money is spent?,’ while looking from the perspective of local governance.
Stressing on the imperativeness of local self-governments to become really literate on the fund flow architecture, the meet also reminded that those sitting in New Delhi cannot be successful at all in policy framing without looking at the grassroots realities and demands of the people. That Kerala’s so-called argumentative, critical and perceptive status is only a myth was also unravelled, for, the lack of multi-stake level earnestness to understand the way money comes and goes into the exchequer was confirmed as a salient feature.
Summing up the proceedings by chairing the valedictory session, Jagadananda, State Information Commissioner, Odisha, said that the need of the hour is to demystify the accounting and budgeting process.
John Samuel of Institute of Sustainable Development and Governance felt that there should be a conscious attempt to build synergy and budget literacy by roping in positive-minded legislators, mediapersons, those heading local governments, bureaucrats and the civil society.
Speakers pointed out that through measures such as taking back 3,000 km of roads from the control of local bodies, the UDF Government has divested the authority and right of grassroots governance, as the Opposition also remained mute.
The consultation was organised by Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi, Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT), Trivandrum and Institute for Sustainable Development and Governance (ISDG), Trivandrum. Inaugurating the meet, Finance Minister K M Mani made three broad suggestions on the budgetary exercise - introduction of budget topics in the syllabi of schools and colleges, publication of economic review and survey prior to the presentation of the budget and mentioning of proposed schemes in the pre-budget discussions.
He also felt that there was no need for secrecy in budget making, as it will erode transparency.
Planning Board vice-chairman K M Chandrasekhar presided. In a technical session, Planning Board member G Vijayaraghavan pointed out the inefficiency of the service delivery mechanism. Eminent economist Praveen Jha focussed on the need to expand the fiscal policy through taxation. GIFT director D Narayana pointed out to the lack of overall vision for the future in budgeting.
Chairman of fourth State Finance Commission M A Oommen stood for a zero-based or performance-based budgetting in lieu of incremental budgeting. Planning Board member C P John, Subrat Das (CBGA), C Gouridasan Nair, Deputy Editor, The Hindu, K N Harilal and C S Venkiteswaran also presented their views.