“Budget Promises: Beyond Parliament” is a pioneering online platform that tracks the government’s record in delivering on its annual budget promises.
The purpose of this platform is to:
Budget promises, along with other parts of the Speech, are widely reported and remain the focus of public discussion on the government budget. However, after the Budget Speech, the public is not informed about revisions made to the promises, nor about whether the promises are actually kept.
This lack of transparency on public finance expenditure enables the Government, particularly in Budget Speech, to make “grand promises”to the public that: 1) are not sensibly formulated; 2) the government is not held accountable to; and 3) are ultimately not executed.
Thus, tracking the budget promises can increase transparency about the Government’s delivery on the promises and thereby increase its accountability to the public.
The purpose of this platform is twofold:
1. Improve the visibility of the promises and the government’s execution of them; and
2. Encourage public debate and discussion on the above.
To this end, the platformtracks a large subset of budget promises and seeks the to answer two basic questions about them: is the Government doing what they are saying? and Is the Government saying what they are doing?
The platform tracks expenditure proposals, or ‘promises’, in the Budget Speech with an allocation of over LKR 1 billion (these proposals can be found in Annexure 2 of the Budget Speech). In the 2017 Budget Speech, there were 37 such proposals. The total value of these proposals was LKR 116.9 billion, which is over 80% of the total value of new expenditure proposals in the 2017 Budget Speech.
The platform then assesses each of these proposals, or ‘promises’, using two indicators: Openness and Progress.
This indicator tracks to what extent the Government is saying what they are doing about each promise. More technically, it assesses the ease of access and level of disclosure of publicly available information about the implementation of each promise. The openness of information for a promise varies as follows:
Closed - No information to determine progress or unresponsive to information request
Restricted - Information insufficient to provide a complete assessment for the whole year
Uncooperative – Sufficient information obtained with difficulty
Responsive - Significant information available and accessible upon request
Open - Extensive information available and accessible with ease
Information on promises was accessed via three modes: (i) checks of relevant government websites, (ii) calls/visits to government agencies, and (iii) requests for information filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
This indicator tracks to what extent the government is doing what they are saying they will do. More technically, it tracks the level of progress on implementing the promises. The evaluation is based on the timelines and milestones set by the government agency responsible for actioning the promise. The Progress of implementation of a promise varies as follows:
Undisclosed - Insufficient or no information to determine status of promise
Broken - No progress on promise or promise removed from 2017 action plan
Poor – Promise in its initial stages
Partial - Promise completed halfway
Substantial - Promise close to completion
Fulfilled - Promise fulfilled
By indicating the levels of government disclosure and progress on each of the promises, the platform provides a novel and neutral basis on which to assess the government’s performance in fulfilling its budget promises.
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BudgetPromises.lk is managed by Verité Research in partnership with Saberion. Verité Research is an independent multi-disciplinary think tank that provides strategic analysis and advice to decision-makers and opinion-formers in Asia. Saberion is a leading transnational web and mobile technology provider based in Sri Lanka.
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