Suggestions have been sought by the Finance Ministry for the Annual Budget
The Finance Ministry has issued a circular giving the detailed procedure for all Ministries and Departments to follow while submitting their inputs for preparing the Annual Budget for the next financial year - 2015-16. Readers may access this 10th October circular on the Finance Ministry's website at: http://finmin.nic.in/the_ministry/dept_eco_affairs/budget/budgetcircular2015-16.pdf
While the contents of the circular are a bit difficult for a person like me untrained in the language and terminology of budget-making exercise, what the circular points to is the possibility of making representations to the concerned Ministry/ Department regarding sectoral allocation of funds. While the circular itself does not talk about any kind of public consultation in formulating the Demand for Grants for the next year, the officers tasked with preparing the expenditure estimates will work in isolation unless citizens start engaging with them from the very beginning to demand increased or more rational, realistic, sensible and just allocation of funds. Several activists and economists who support the right to work have made public statements criticising the proposed change in the labour-non-labour component of the spending under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act/Programme. This is the moment to take that message straight to the policymakers and the budget drafting officers so that the budget document reflects these demands.
The Budget has in recent years paid special attention to the development of women, children and citizens belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and those living in Sikkim and the northeastern States of India. This is the moment to suggest changes, alterations and rationalisation in the concerned plan and non-plan schemes.