Make Budgets Public Now!

October 7, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

Make Budgets Public Now!

Inclusive and open public budgets are ESSENTIAL to achieving a world in which ALL human beings can enjoy their civil, political, social, economic, cultural and environmental rights. Spread the word and pressure your governments and parliaments to be transparent about the budget. It’s your money!

Why this campaign?

Civil society engagement with government finances has been increasingly focusing on the nature of budgetary information being made available by the government in the public domain. A major hindrance in seeking accountability on public expenditure comes from the lack of adequate budgetary information being made available publicly for scrutiny.

Enhancing budget transparency would require pro-active and timely disclosure of budgetary information in an understandable format by the government. This is essential not only to strengthen the engagement of common citizens with budgets but also for citizens to demand accountability from the government authorities and service providers for better delivery of services and implementation of schemes.

 

What is meant by budget transparency?

A number of concerns arise with regard to budget documents and the information provided in these documents when transparency of government budgets is being analysed at various levels of governance. For instance, availability of key budget documents which are required to enable an analysis of budgets is an important concern in itself. In the Indian context, most of the relevant Union Budget documents (i.e. in terms of the eight key budget documents as per international practices), except the pre-budget statement, are prepared and shared in the public domain. While substantial progress has been made in the past decade with regard to enhancing budget transparency at the Union level, the same is not the case at the sub national levels, especially at the district levels.

Likewise, an important aspect of budget transparency is the availability of locally relevant budgetary information. Disaggregated budgetary information at the district and sub district levels is often not shared in the public domain. This actually restricts citizens’ engagement in the wider debates and discussions on budgets and its priorities. Additionally, accessibility of relevant information and presentation of budget information in a manner that would enable understanding of such information are other important parameters of budget transparency.  Further, time taken for relevant information to be made available in the public domain is also considered a key indicator of budget transparency. Apart from this, scope for public engagement in different phases of a budget cycle is also considered one of the key indicators of budget transparency.

About the campaign

Against this backdrop, People’s Budget Initiative (PBI) along with Global Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (BTAP) are launching a campaign to enhance budget transparency in India. Over a hundred civil society organisations from about 18 states are expected to be part of the campaign. The campaign will be focusing on budget transparency at the Union, State and District levels. The campaign will be initiated by developing a Charter of Demands which would include a list of key budget documents and relevant information on budgets at each level to be made available in the public domain. Subsequently, advocacy efforts by member organisations will be undertaken to push for the demands made in the Charter at each of the three levels to be met.

At the Union level, the campaign will focus on demanding Union Ministries to place a set of budget documents (Annual reports, Demand for Grants and Outcome Budget documents for all the Ministries/Departments,) for the last ten years in the public domain by uploading them on their websites. Likewise, at the State level, the campaign will ask for detailed budget books and outcome budgets to be placed in the public domain. At the District level, the campaign will focus on demanding that information regarding key development programmes be made available in an accessible manner that would allow common citizens to understand and interpret the information shared.The campaign will also rely on media advocacy through print and electronic media at both the National and State levels to disseminate the key advocacy messages of the campaign.

Asking for a simple and straight forward demands of making budget documents available in the public domain will be a trigger which many groups will find useful for enhancing transparency and accountability on community’s and people’s entitlements and rights.

Suggested way forward

  • Sharing the concept for the campaign and seeking inputs from the Organising Committee of PBI
  • Preparation of charter of demands
  • Preparation of a media campaign
  • Online campaign – letters to the Prime Minister and Finance Minister – with an initial letter signed by visible public figures.
  • Over thousand letters to be sent from districts, states to the Prime Minister and Chief Minister and Finance Ministers of both Central and State Governments.
  • Collective and coordinated public action across states and also at the level of some districts where organisations are active

About People’s Budget Initiative (PBI)

People’s Budget Initiative (PBI) is a civil society coalition, which campaigns for the inclusion of people_s movements, grassroots organisations and national and international NGOs in the policy processes that determine the priorities underlying government budgets in India. Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability serves as the Secretariat of PBI

About Global Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (BTAP)

The Global Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation is an effort by a broad range of activists and organizations working on public finance and budget accountability issues from around the world to achieve human rights

G-BTAP: http://makebudgetspublic.org/

PBI: http://www.cbgaindia.org/advocacy_peoples_budget_initiative.php

Filed in: Press Releases

About the Author (Author Profile)

Leave a Reply

Trackback URL | RSS Feed for This Entry