Do you think the state government needs to manage its expenses better, look for out-of-the-box methods to generate resources and tax citizens less?
If you have a suggestion that can help the state’s exchequer, you can write to the finance minister. That’s not all. You even stand a chance of winning up to Rs10 lakh if your suggestion makes it to the annual budget.
In a first of its kind initiative, the state government has asked citizens to participate in the annual budget process and has sought suggestions on two aspects — innovative ways to increase the state’s revenue and how the state can cut down administrative expenses.
Twenty-seven of the most innovative and practical suggestions will make it to the budget document for 2016-17. The finance department has also rolled out cash prizes for the best suggestions — Rs10 lakh for the best suggestion, Rs7.50 lakh for the second-best and Rs1 lakh each for the remaining 25.
With the highest debt in the country at Rs3 lakh crore, and a revenue deficit of Rs7,000 crore that is likely to go up to Rs13,000 crore by March 2016, the state’s finances are in poor shape.
The drought this year, and populist measures such as removing LBT and road toll have also added to the exchequer’s burden, leading to a revenue deficit.
Further, the seventh pay commission rules and debt repayment is likely to worsen the situation in the next two years.
“It’s a bid to make the annual budget process and planning more participatory. Generally, the process is very opaque. We hope to get genuine, good suggestions from experts, government officials and the citizens and plan to include every selected suggestion in next year’s budget,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, the finance minister.
The finance department issued the order on Monday. It states citizens can write in their suggestion directly to the finance minister or additional chief secretary of finance and register it online, or send the suggestions by post.
Each suggestion should be sent separately, and explained in 300 words. The suggestions will be forwarded for scrutiny to the departments concerned, and then the best suggestions will be sent to an expert committee. This committee, consisting six members led by the additional chief secretary, finance, will select the 27 suggestions that will be incorporated in the 2016-17 budget.
This is not the finance minister’s first attempt at reaching out for suggestions for the state’s budget. In March 2015, Mungantiwar had asked industry and economic experts and even chief ministers of other states to suggest novel ideas.