By: Ismail Baloch
KHUZDAR: Center for Peace and Development (CPDI) has released its third annual report on the “State of Budget Transparency in Pakistan”. The report points out shortcomings in the budgeting process at the federal and provincial levels and calls for budget proposals to be widely discussed with civic groups, government agencies and key stakeholders.
The mentioned report states that monthly/quarterly or annual reports on budget implementation, should be shared with pubic and audit reports should be uploaded on the Auditor General’s websites on regular basis. In addition, the participation of citizens in the budgeting process should be given legal protection and government agencies should be required to consult with the citizens during the various stages of budget making process. In particular, the role of MPs should be enhanced during budget formulation and its implementation
Recently in “stake holder’s dialogue on transparent budgeting” conducted in Khuzdar, with elected representatives, LG representatives, CSOs and media persons, organized by member organization of CNBA (Citizens Network for Budget Accountability. Mr. Muhammad Yousaf shared that for the past decade, CPDI has been working to improve the budgeting process in Pakistan from the district to the federal level to promote transparency in it. As a result, third report based on “State of Budget Transparency in Pakistan 2022” has been released. This report not only examines budget transparency in Pakistan but also helps to gauge the effectiveness of access to information laws in Pakistan in obtaining budget information.
According to first portion of report related to RTI implementation in public bodies, 150 requests for information, out of which 38 to the federal, 112 to Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh collectively, were sent to selected federal ministries and provincial departments to test reactive disclosure in budgeting process. Surprisingly, not a single response to any of these requests was received within the stipulated time which is very disappointing. In second stage 30 requests, only 5 were replied.
In addition to the comprehensiveness of the budget document and the inclusion of citizens, overall KPK government ranked first with 93 points out of maximum 267 points. All governments shown an appreciable progress regarding comprehensiveness of budget documents this year and these documents meet the international standard of functional and economical classification.
According to the report, participation of citizens in budgeting, legislature oversight, duration of budget debate in parliaments and equitable budgeting are required to be addressed. In addition, issuing quarterly, half-yearly or annual reports is not the priority of governments.
It is also worth noting that governments do not provide revised estimates timely with concerned stakeholders but are presented during the budget approval process. It has been demanded that the provincial and federal governments ensure the implementation of access to information laws and remove obstacles in order to promote budget transparency and accountability. In addition, the period for discussion and approval of the budget should be extended so that it can be discussed in detail. At the same time, consultation with relevant stakeholders, especially citizens, should be given legal protection.
Published in The Balochistan Point on January 28, 2023