KP districts show dismal budget preparation

The budget preparation process is dismally weak in majority districts of PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) where performance of 86 percent districts can be termed very weak and 14 percent as moderate.

“The budget preparation process is very weak in 18 districts (86%), and moderate in 14% districts, calling for serious concerted efforts for policy reforms, capacity building coupled with abiding by rules and procedures,” a study on budget making process in KP prepared by Citizens Network for Budget Accountability (CNBA) & Centre for Peace and Development Initiative (CPDI) states.

The study reveals that budget call letters (BCL) is not circulated on time in 67% districts in case of health, 63% districts in case of education and 55% districts in case of agriculture either did not receive the BCL on time or did not receive the BCL at all.

On average, less than 38% departments received the BCL before October 31, 2013.

Similarly, majority of the departments have not received the budget calendar, which spells out the schedule of different budget preparation activities.

Even the date of release of budget is not mentioned in many cases.

The submission of Estimates of Expenditure is encouraging as 98%, 89% and 73% of districts submitted the estimates in case of agriculture, education and health sectors respectively.

However, Schedule of New Expenditures (SNEs) are not prepared by majority of the districts. Statements of Excess and Surrender are not prepared by 55% of the districts. Same is the dismal position about submission of development projects.

Pre-budget consultation is very poor, as no pre-budget consultation took place in 90% of the districts. Public release of pre-budget statement and preparation and release of citizen budget are not practiced at all. There is acute shortage of skilled budget staff. No research is taking place across the districts and very few districts have their websites. However net facility is available in 70% of the districts.

In agriculture department, 8 (42%) districts responded that they did not prepare the Statement of Excess and Surrender, whereas majority or 11 (58%) districts have prepared it. In education department 14 (74%) districts revealed that they have not prepared it and only 5 (26%) departments responded that they have prepared the Statement. In case of health department 7 (47%) districts conceded that they have not prepared it however majority 8 (53%) districts revealed that they have prepared the Statement of Excess and Surrender.

This phenomenon shows that non-submission of the statements on time makes it difficult to revise the budget on need basis and hence hampers the resource management and affects the performance of the institutions, owing to difficulties in re-appropriation of resource crunch

The data shows that in agriculture department, 11 (58%) districts confirmed the fact that they have not submitted their new development project proposals however 8 (42%) districts have informed that they have submitted the proposals to the provincial department.

In case of education, 13 (68%) districts responded that they have not submitted it and only 6 (32%) districts have submitted it. In case of health department, 6 (40%) districts indicated that they have not submitted their new development project proposals and majority or 9 (60%) districts have submitted it.

The situation is good in case of health but disappointing in case of education and agriculture. This is usually due to lack of capacity for initiating development projects.

This survey shows that in agriculture departments 5 (26%) districts have no access to the internet while 14 (74%) districts have the facility. In case of education department, 6 (32%) districts have no access whereas majority 13 (68%) districts have access to internet. In health department 5 (31%) districts have no access to internet whereas 11(69%) districts have the facility. This is the only area which is encouraging. Though the use may be restricted to word processing, basic surfing and emails but the technology will assimilate in the functions in due course.

Website is a very important requirement of present day organic offices which presents the information about the department, facilitates public in access to the information and mainly brings transparency in the affairs. With only 3 exceptions, all of the district-level departments under study have no website. The data shows the non-availability of official website in majority of the districts in the 3 departments and this is true for almost all the district level offices.

In the recommendations, it was called upon authorities for capacity building of all officers. Capacity building of the district level offices is of vital importance both in terms of creation of designated posts and posting of skilled staff and their training and re-training in planning, budgeting, accounting, procurement and monitoring and evaluation.
By :
Mehtab Haider
The News Link

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