Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Making Budget Really Interesting

So the annual union budget is tabled. The television channels are out to out-do one another by projecting different, unique perspective to the budget.

Ok, here's a question: Can you tell me one item on which the duty was reduced in the last year's budget? That was difficult, wasn't it? Ok, I will make it simpler. Just generally, very generally, describe last year's budget - the general policies, the thrust. You now know where I am coming from. No one - except the economists and perhaps the FICCI, perhaps - remembers the budget 6 months down the line.

Now, here is one thing that can be done to make the budget more real to you and me - the common person: the finance minister can still make that 2 hour speech, if s/he so desires; but wouldn't it be nice if at the end of the whole budget a speadsheet is presented listing planned and actuals ... like this

Goal ---------Planned Budget ---- Achieved
Employment-------1,50,000------------ 25,000
New Roads -------6000 km -------------2000 km
Water -----------500 villages ------- 1200 villages
Electricity -----500 villages --------600 villages

The spreadsheet can be made available in the public domain and the bureaucrats can keep updating the document with the data.
Easy to understand. easy to follow.
Now that would be a true transparency.
So what do you say, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee (or any other future Finance Minister)? Up to the challenge?

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