ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Controlling the Purse Strings

Control of Public Money – The Fiscal Machinery in Developing Countries by A Premchand; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2000; pp 494, price not indicated.

The title of the book is somewhat misleading as the book presents a comprehensive survey of the systems and procedures in industrial and developing countries with regard to the control of public money. The volume also surveys recent advances made in this behalf in Australia, New Zealand, UK and the US and their relevance to other countries

The book is divided in five parts and 16 chapters. Part I, ‘Scope of Control – Issues and Resolution Approaches’, comprises five chapters, namely, multiple facets of expenditure control; changing patterns in expenditure management; recent reforms and issues; publicprivate partnerships – an area in search of analysis; and bias in budget estimates, underfunding and money management. Part II titled ‘Comparative Studies’ consists of two chapters, namely, a comparative survey of budgetary management in the US and in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom; and role and impact of donor approaches: growth of a functional diarchy. Part III is on planning and budgeting and consists of three chapters, namely, budgeting for economic development: evolution and practice of an idea; planning and budgeting; and capital budgeting in governments. Part IV relates to organisational aspects and is divided in three chapters, namely, institutional development and organisational paradoxes; organising finance ministries; and financial management in spending agencies. The last Part V is on accounting, audit and legislative control and comprises three chapters – government accounting: quest for a pole star; audit: an incomplete mission; and legislative control: a margin of hope. The book has 22 charts and 41 tables. The importance of this book lies in the fact that it provides an excellent bird’seye view of the issues pertaining to expenditure management, an area long neglected in public finance. As the author himself brings out, “the terms ‘management of public money’, ‘expenditure management’ and ‘financial management’ are used more or less synonymously. Purists may have problems with this approach Given an option, however, between the monotonous use of the same phrase and a variety of other phrases, it is only natural that the latter would be the choice.”

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