A+| A| A-

Recommendations to the Fourteenth Finance Commission

Budget Transparency and Participation

In a formal sense, the Government of India provides considerable transparency in the budget process, but in a substantive sense, public participation is very limited. The Fourteenth Finance Commission has the opportunity to recommend true budget transparency, accountability and participation.

The hallmark of a vibrant democracy is the strength and quality of participation by its citizens. Electing representatives to Parliament and state legislatures every five years is not enough. The real measure of participation is the extent to which citizens are actively engaged in the political process during those five years. In particular, citizens should question representatives continuously and hold them to account. Similarly, elected parliamentarians should perform their oversight duty and hold the executive to account. Public participation in the budget process is especially important, as budgets that reflect the needs and priorities of a country and its people are fundamental to the success of any public policy, particularly policies related to service delivery. To help ensure that services respond to citizens’ needs and are of good quality, citizens – the recipients of services – must engage throughout the budget process. Effective engagement in turn, whether at the national or sub-national levels, depends on the citizens’ access to timely and relevant information as well as the establishment of formal spaces for participation in the budget process.

India is fairly transparent with respect to its budget on the national level and some opportunities to participate in the budget process do exist. For example, India’s score on the 2012 Open Budget Survey (OBS),1 an independent and comparative study of budget transparency and accountability, was 68 out of 100, giving it an enviable rank of 14 out of the 100, countries participating in the survey. Further, instruments such as citizens’ charters, right to information, e-governance, report cards, and social audits have helped strengthen transparency in the functioning of the government and empowered citizens with information required for a meaningful citizen-government engagement. Yet, given the critical role of transparency, accountability, and participation in ensuring good governance, more can and should be done.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

The genesis and evolution of the COVID-19-led migrant crisis in India, along with the institutional responses, is discussed. The focus is on the...

C P Bhambri believed that the task of social science, like all other sciences, was to arrive at the truth on the basis of well-established facts....

The COVID-19 pandemic may affect the financing opportunities for innovation. The revenue loss induced by the pandemic is likely to divert the...

When the goods and services tax was introduced in July 2017, states were given a revenue guarantee of 14% per annum on their GST revenue over the...

India’s public health system has struggled to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Even before the pandemic, India’s public health infrastructure was...

The National Education Policy, 2020 unveiled finally seeks to usher in major structural reforms in higher education. Among many measures,...

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown led to the closure of all markets in Manipur, including the Tribal Market Complex in Imphal East...

Coherent national strategies, backed by regional cooperation efforts, offer a way forward for economic recovery in South Asia, which is rapidly...

Sections 357 and 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lay down the procedure for granting compensation to the victims of crime. Under the...

The COVID-19 pandemic has provocatively challenged the extant paradigm of development whose theoretical underpinning is derived from the...

Back to Top