ISLAMABAD: Budget making process in Pakistan continues to be obscure amid the creative budgeting practices such as block allocations.
This was highlighted in a recent research study on Budget Transparency and Accountability in Punjab conducted by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI).
During the study, it was revealed that for fiscal year 2014-15, Punjab’s development budget has a total allocation of Rs358 billion, out of which Rs58 billion (16%) are block allocations that lack details of the projected expenditures.
Although this depicts a relative improvement when compared to the previous year’s (2013-14) budget that had 48% share of block allocations, the share of ‘other allocations’ has significantly increased to 46%, compared to 20% in budget last year.
Though the development budget for the fiscal year 2014-15 has decreased under the “Block Allocations”, this burden has actually shifted to “Other Allocations”, noted CPDI. To ensure better transparency and accountability, it is necessary that the government makes clear classifications in its budget books.
Secretive measures like block allocations and other allocations should be reduced to make the budget-making process more transparent.
The answer to practical democracy is active involvement of people at every step of governance including the budget making process, the study said. However, the budget-making process has been largely ambiguous due to which people no opportunity to participate in the process that directly affects the quality of their lives.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.