“Budget Promises: Beyond Parliament” is an online platform that tracks the government’s efficacy in implementing its annual budget promises.
Budget promises are proposed in the Budget Speech – a statement delivered by the Minister of Finance in November each year. The speech reflects the Government’s economic and policy priorities for the country; it outlineshow the Government of Sri Lanka intends to collect revenue (such as through taxes) and manage public money over the following year and the medium-term.Promises range from providing relief to the poor, to building new infrastructure, to investing in the health and education sectors.
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:
(i) Improve the visibility of the promises and the government’s execution of them; and
(ii) Encourage public debate and discussion on the above.
To this end, the platform tracks 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 new expenditure proposals in the Budget Speech with an allocation of over LKR 1 billion (Budget Speech - Annexure 2). There were 37 such promises made for the year 2017. The total value of these promises is LKR 116,910 million, which is over 80% of total value of new expenditure proposals.
The platform then assesses each of these promises using two indicators: openness and progress.
This indicator tracks the ease of access and level of disclosure of information available to the public regarding the implementation of the promises. The Openness of a government agency responsible for a promise varies as follows:
Closed - No information available or unresponsive to request
Obstructed - Information insufficient to determine progress regardless of access
Restricted – 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) websites, (ii) government officials, and (iii) requests for information filed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
This indicator tracks the level of progress of implementation of the promises based on the timelines and milestones set by the government agency responsible for actioning the promise. The Progress for a promise varies as follows:
Undisclosed - Insufficient or no information to determine status of promise
Broken - Promise has been removed from 2017 plan
Neglected - Implementation of promise not initiated
Lagging - Implementation of promise behind schedule
Progressing - Implementation of promise on track or ahead of schedule
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 implementing its promises.
Hotline - 076 898 5522
Email - [email protected]
www.budgetpromises.org is managed by Verité Research, an independent multi-disciplinary think tank providing strategic analysis and advice to decision-makers and opinion-formers in Asia, in partnership with Saberion, a leading transnational web and mobile technology provider.
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