Citizen focused Budgeting

  • Realistic Budgeting

The usual practice of budget preparation in local authorities, is predicting income and expenditure based on budgets of previous years. The practice of evidence-based budgeting is seldom used, and allocations are made based on assumptions made in decades past.
In the current local authority budgeting routine, there is no practice of assessing income and expenditure actual’s of a financial year, and comparing it to the figures predicted when preparing the budget.

The use of ICTs in this instance could prove to transform budgeting practices to be evidence based and fine-tuned to ensure the best returns to the citizen.

Local authorities in Sri Lanka, have not yet practiced the use of “Key Budget Indicators”, which could be used to strengthen budget quality. Key Budget Indicators could also be monitored through-out a financial year to monitor the progress of income and expenditure in terms of the expected values in the budget.

This concept feeds a larger concept called Realistic Budgeting. A realistic budget makes estimates using scientific predictions as opposed to arbitrary practices.

The BPT tool helps assess previous trends using RMT and predict future trends.

  • Participatory Planning and Inclusive Budget Preparation

Budgeting and planning are usually considered two separate entities when in fact they could be merged as one. The usual practice in planning a budget with citizen engagement, is to ensure participation of citizens in the budget preparation cycle. Public consultation activities are conducted to ensure participation.

Though these practices appear to be participatory, a further assessment of the public groups who attend these budget meetings could question how representative the group is, of locality.

The usual practice of “participation” does not represent all the different groups of a community, hence the participatory planning must also be an inclusive process, with voices of a variety of groups being heard. In Sri Lanka, the practice of participatory planning is considerably wide-spread, which is a good indicator of the efforts taken by the existing local governments. These efforts could further be improved to include representation from as many groups, especially the vulnerable and marginalized in discussions on the budget.
Tools such as eCRC facilitate this process.