Disclosure on implementation vital - Verite Research | Sunday Observer
Budget credibility: 

Disclosure on implementation vital - Verite Research

8 November, 2020

Stressing the need for a more credible budget Verite Research through its budgetpromises.org platform calls on policy makers to develop and document supporting information and analysis for each proposal prior to including it in the budget.

The proposals include providing timely and consistent disclosure on budget implementation on Ministry websites, provide better oversight through the executive and legislature (e.g. Parliamentary Committees and structures), reduce the fragmentation of ministerial portfolios and ensure that a clear line of accountabilityt is maintained on the implementation of each proposal. A credible budge implementation process is one that delivers on the promises made, and provides information and reasons to explain the promises that are not met.

However, the findings of BudgetPromises. Org points to a budget that is unable to maintain such credibility.  In 2019, the platform tracked 37 promises with a total allocation of Rs. 100,875 million from the 2019 Budget.

Two additional elements of the platform are; (1) The tracking of policy proposals and (2) Openness Ranking Index.

There is a divergence in what is said in the Budget speech and what is implemented, in expenditure proposals and policy proposals.

BudgetPromises.Org analysed past budgets and found that many expenditure proposals have their allocations reduced every year. 

Last year, 41% of the policy proposals tracked by the platform were not implemented. 

In 2019, openness on proposals was hindered by the frequent changes to ministerial portfolios.

The budget monitoring process revealed that the fragmentation of ministries had resulted in a breakdown of the lines of responsibility.

Even those that were tasked with oversight of the budget were not able to provide clarity on the agencies responsible for implementing specific budget proposals. 

In 2019, no information was available on the implementation of 32% of proposals. This is a significant deterioration from the problem of missing information in the previous year, where only 13% of the proposals fell into this category of no information.

Updated information on the annual progress was found online for only two of the 37 proposals tracked by the platform.

Although responsiveness to requests under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has remained steady, poor proactive disclosure and the overall lack of visibility on proposals points to significant room for improvement in the openness of government.

 Verité Research is a private think tank that provides strategic analysis for Asia. BudgetPromises.Org is an online platform that seeks to answer two questions about Sri Lanka’s budget; Is the Government doing what it is saying? and is the Government saying what it is doing? The platform was launched in 2017 and tracks the progress and openness of key proposals in the budget.