Islamabad, 26th July, 2013 – A study on budget making process in Pakistan was released on Friday by Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, an Islamabad-based non-governmental organization. The study was conducted by the Citizens Network for Budget Accountability, a network of 23 civil society organizations and activists from different districts of the Punjab province formed to monitor the process of budget-making at the district level. The main aim of the study was to collect research-based evidence whether district governments of Punjab are following the timelines and required procedures for the budget-making process.
The study establishes that budget-making process in Pakistan has been largely opaque. Of 36 districts in the Punjab, only 3 districts have some sort of consultations with civil society during the process of budget making a mandatory requirement under District Budget Rules 2003. People have little opportunity to participate in the process that affects the quality of their lives directly. No major steps have been taken by any government or political parties to make this process participatory or people-oriented. Further, there is no tradition of releasing pre-budget statement to the public. The best practices in budget making process world over include preparation of Citizen Budget. This is the presentation of budget in simplified language for understanding of general public. Only four districts claimed to have prepared “citizen budget” but its copy was not shared.
The study shows that only 26 districts have issued budget call letters (BCLs) to district departments. Of these 26 districts, vision/mission of the district government was mentioned only in 6 BCLs and only 19 were sent with detailed budget calendar. The study also revealed that process of budget making was still in a very rudimentary stage. The estimates of expenditure should have been completed by first of March but only 11 districts have completed it. Similarly, estimates of receipts that should have been completed by March 1, were completed by 9 districts only.
An important yardstick for information dissemination would have been a good interactive and updated website. The survey results show that only 6 districts have functional websites. There was no district where budget figures for last 3 years could be found. Districts are also shy of posting their project expenses regularly on their websites.
The budget branches of district governments are in depleted condition. Only 3 districts have some sort of dedicated research staff in budget branch. With Chief Minister of the Punjab distributed more that 150,000 laptops last year, budget branch of only 11 districts are fully computerized.
The study recommends the increased public participation in budget making process. It reiterates that local government elections are conducted in the Punjab and local governments are placed in the districts to oversee the performance of executive branch.
A copy of the study can be requested by writing to CPDI or it can be accessed using the following link: