“Budget Promises: Beyond Parliament”

“Budget Promises: Beyond Parliament” is a pioneering online platform that tracks the government’s performance in delivering on its budget promises. 
The platform was launched in 2017 and seeks to answer two basic questions about the promises the government makes in its annual Budget Speech:

  • (i) Is the government doing what it is saying?
  • (ii) Is the government saying what it is doing?

By giving the public access to the answers to these questions, the platform aims to

  • (i) Improve visibility of the government’s budget promises; and
  • (ii) Hold it accountable for these promises.


How it works

BudgetPromises.Org tracks new expenditure proposals or ‘promises’ in the Budget Speech (listed in Annex 2 of the Speech) which have an allocation of over LKR 500 million. In 2019, the platform also begun tracking policy proposals, such as changes to legislation and regulations, which do not have an expenditure allocation.

  Year    Expenditure proposals  Policy Proposals
 Selection Threshold*  Number of proposals  Total value of proposals  Number of proposals
 2017  Above LKR 1 Bn  37  LKR 116,910 Mn  None
 2018  Above LKR 1 Bn  38  LKR 149,350 Mn  None
 2019  Above LKR 500 Mn  37  LKR 100,875 Mn  22


The platform is updated twice a year and assesses each of expenditure proposals using two indicators:  Openness  and  Progress. The implementation of policy proposals is tracked using a single Progress indicator. The status of policy proposals were mainly assessed through publicly available information, and did not rely on requests filed under the Right To Information Act. Hence, the assessment of policy proposals does not have an indicator on openness.

A mid-year assessment of performance for the first six months is released in October of the year and an assessment of performance for the full year is released in April/May of the following year.**

*In 2017 and 2018, the selection threshold was based only on the proposed allocation of expenditure for the proposals. In 2019, the selection threshold was based on the addition of the proposed allocation proposal and its already allocated amount, due to the change in reporting format of the Budget Speech.

**As the Budget Speech for 2019 was delayed and only presented to Parliament in March 2019, only a year-end assessment was carried out in 2019.

Expenditure proposals

Openness Tracker

This tracks to what extent the government is saying what it is doing about each promise. It measures the government’s level of disclosure of information about the implementation of each promise. The tracker uses information obtained via relevant government websites and requests filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In 2017 and 2018, information was also collected via visits to government agencies and informal requests with the agencies. However, this method of information collection has been discontinued.

The mid-year assessment measures the extent to which the government has been open about disclosing information on the implementation of the first six months of progress on budget promises. The year-end assessment measures the government’s openness on disclosing information on progress for the full year.

Openness is based on the information available at the time of assessment and is categorised as follows: 

  • Closed- No information is available to determine progress for full period of assessment
  • Restricted- Information is insufficient to determine progress of the promise for the full period of assessment
  • Uncooperative- Information available on the promise required considerable effort to obtain and/or assess progress
  • Responsive- Information on progress of the promise was available upon request in a timely manner
  • Open- Information on full progress of the promise is proactively disclosed

Openness Rankings for Government Agencies

This provides a comparative ranking of the openness of government agencies in disclosing information about the promises they are responsible for. Each agency receives a score between 0 to 100, with a score of 100 indicating the highest level of openness. Government agencies are then ranked from highest to lowest, indicating their relative performance during the year.

The aggregate score for the government agency is calculated as a weighted average of the scores of each promise under the purview of the agency. Each promise is scored on a scale of 0 to 100. The score for each individual promise is calculated based on (i) The usability of the information in evaluating the progress of the promise and (ii) the ease of obtaining this information.

Usability of information: Each promise receives an initial score of 100, 50 or 0 based on whether the information available is fully usable, partially usable or unusable.

Ease of obtaining information: The initial score on usability is adjusted based on the ease of obtaining the information. Proactive disclosure, i.e. providing information online is given a higher score comparison to reactive disclosure, i.e. obtaining information through requests filed under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act).

Progress Tracker

This tracks to what extent the government is doing what it is saying. It evaluates the level of progress of the government in implementing the promises, based on timelines and milestones established by the agency responsible.

For the mid-year assessment progress is categorised as follows:

  • Undisclosed- No information is available on the promise or available information is unusable
  • Broken- The promise has been dropped or postponed and is not scheduled for implementation in the year of assessment
  • Neglected- The promise is scheduled for implementation but not initiated
  • Lagging- The promise is being implemented but is behind schedule
  • Progressing- The promise is being implemented and is on track or ahead of target**

*A promise is considered to be progressing if progress achieved as at 30 June of the budget year is within 90% of the target set for the period.

For the year-end assessment progress is categorised as follows:

  • Undisclosed- No information is available to determine the status of the promise or available information is insufficient/unusable
  • Broken- No progress has been made on the promise or the promise has been removed from the action plan for the year
  • Poor- Progress on the promise is less than 33% of the target
  • Partial- Progress on the promise is between 33% - 66% of the target
  • Substantial- Progress on the promise is between 66% - 80% of the target
  • Fulfilled- Progress on the promise is over 80% of the target

Policy Proposals

In 2019, BudgetPromises.Org expanded its scope to track the progress of policy commitments made by the government in the Budget Speech. These proposals do not have an expenditure allocation.

The proposals were selected on the basis of requiring legislative enactment or regulatory notification (gazettes) to be considered “Implemented” or “Partially implemented”. Information was obtained from publicly available information such as gazette notifications, government circulars, and Department of Government Information communiques on cabinet decisions. When no public information on the policy was available, ministries were directly contacted for information via letters, phone calls, and emails.

Progress Tracker

This tracks the level of progress made by the government in implementing the policy proposals introduced in the Budget Speech.

  • Undisclosed- No information is available on the promise or available information is unusable
  • Not implemented - The required legislative enactment or regulatory notification (gazette) has not been published for any part of the proposal. This has been confirmed in writing by the relevant ministry/ government institution.
  • Partially Implemented- The required legislative enactment or regulatory notification (gazette) has been published for some but not all parts of the proposal.
  • Implemented- The policy proposal has been fully implemented. The legislative enactment or regulatory notification (gazette) required has been published for the full scope of the proposal and no further action is required.

Disclaimer

The information contained on this platform has been compiled from government records, official publications, public records, and information received by filing Right to Information requests. The information contained on this platform does not express the personal views and opinions of Verité Research or its members. Verité Research shall not be liable in any manner whatsoever for any loss or damage, including any alleged loss or damage to reputation that may be perceived to be incurred as a result of the information contained on the platform.

While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on this platform has been obtained from reliable sources, Verité Research and the team members of budgetpromises.org are not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. Users are not authorised to modify, publish, transmit, transfer, sell, reproduce, create derivative work from, distribute, repost, perform, display or in any manner commercially exploit any of the content on this platform without prior written consent of Verité Research. Also, budgetpromises.org is not liable for any subsequent use of the material, whether such use is with or without the previous consent of Verité Research.

Budgetpromises.org does not support, endorse, represent, and is not affiliated with any political party and/or politically motivated organisation. Analysis indicators used are merely a statistical inference of the performance.

The information contained on this platform is being provided free of charge in the interest of building awareness. There is no agreement or understanding between Verité Research or the team members of budgetpromises.org and any user to provide the information contained on this platform.

This platform contains independent analysis pieces commissioned by budgetpromises.org to indicate and reflect on the trends exhibited in the data. The reproduction of such analysis pieces must be with the prior consent of Verité Research.