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Let budget become participative

The budget should be made an open process where affected parties know the reasons for changes. In any case the Parliament does discuss and alter it. In fact a draft budget should be presented one month before final declaration in March every year. It should be presented to people and experts for comments and modifications. This would make it strong, relevant and people friendly.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2006 18:05 IST

This is the day for Railway budget. Several questions come to our mind on the beaten track Indian government keeps moving since independence. One example was reading out budget in afternoon so that it could match office opening timing in Britain. No one applied his mind and stopped this absurd practice until recently a few years back. Now budget is read at 11 am which is normal and logical.

I can’t understand why Railways has to present separate budget? After all it is just one commercial enterprise of a Ministry and should have become corporatised by now and preferably broken into smaller companies and put in joint sector like Maruti Udyog.

There are so many other big public outlays like PDS and subsidies and agriculture and energy sectors too. What is special about railways that is not applicable to road transport, a bigger sector and concerned with common man more than railways.

This must stop now.

Another point is tremendous secrecy built around budgeting process. Can I ask why? Why budget has to be so secret when it being prepared in consultation with experts, industrialists, academicians, bureaucrats and common citizens for whom it is made?

Why does the Cabinet secretary have sleepless nights and why so many gadgets and security personnel are required? Can you stop a corrupt babu from sending email or phone call from home, if not possible in office?

I must admit that in pre-1991 era I used to know what the files contained in various ministry secretariats through our network with corrupt public servants. All people in industry and business do this. So is all this dramatising is to fool people? How it will make budgeting better?

After all budget is a policy paper and financial forecast for Union of India and is done for people. So where is need for secrecy?

In fact all budgetary provisions should be made effective from 1st April only giving enough time for people affected to represent and for markets to absorb changes which are likely to come due to budgetary provisions. That makes better sense.

I don’t see any academic or economic logic in doing the way we are practicing. It is just old habits of bureaucracy in India and mindset to conceal people's file from the people themselves in so-called public interest and in name of official secrets act.

Let us change all this absurd system and open up. Let budget become a participative and open process where affected parties know the reasons for changes. In any case after presentation of budgets things are discussed and debated and altered in Parliament.

In fact a draft budget should be presented one month before final budget declaration in March every year. This draft budget should be presented to people and experts for comments and modifications wherever required. This would make your budgeting more strong, relevant and people friendly.

First Published: Feb 24, 2006 18:05 IST