Budget and plans for tomorrow

[ Tongam Rina ]
If you overlook the names of the schemes which are in impossibly tough Hindi and named after people, you might need to Google it if you are already not aware who the new heroes of this country are, the budget proposals for Arunachal is exhaustive, covering 16 broad topics -health, skills and jobs, gender empowerment, social security to rural farm economy and more.
The budget appears almost inclusive as well as extremely confident; though one cannot be too sure how these proposals are going to be given shape since our state is not known for proper implementation of any of the programmes.
The departments will perhaps figure out how the proposals are going to be implemented so that it reaches the population, even if it is a few thousand who will ultimately be benefited.
In Arunachal, work culture is such that no government work is done unless one literally moves with the file. Most who have dealt with the government officials know that moving a file from one table to the other is an extremely expensive business and time consuming. Even within the government departments, it takes ages and personal supervision to make files move.
That is our work culture, or the lack of it, which results in abysmal performance of all schemes and programmes in the state. So, the onus is really on the government departments to ensure that the proposals are given shape as envisaged in the budget.
One of the proposals that might be able to plug the loopholes in the implementation part is the proposal to launch an Integrated Financial Management System, “which will capture the entire trail of budget management from allocation to expenditure, which will link up all treasuries on a common platform”.
Incorporation of the functioning of the Planning and Finance department into an integrated department of Finance, Planning and Investments “for a comprehensive perspective of planning, resource mobilization and expenditure” is another important move. But it remains to be seen how long the entire process of actual amalgamation of two important departments will take place.
This time, there is a proposal for mandatory third-party audits of all capital asset creation with expenditure beyond Rs 1 crore. The need for third-party monitoring, a proposal which was started during late Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu’s time is also a reflection on how seriously our government departments execute work, forcing its own government to have a third-party monitoring or audit.
The contractors, whichever class they belong to, and those officers who oversee the work, especially the works department need to introspect why the state needs a third-party audit and monitoring incurring unnecessary expenditure.
If one is doing their job well, there is no reason why anybody needs to be monitored, but it is reflection on how casually those in authority take their jobs and how many government schemes have ended up as money-making opportunities for some.
The trend will continue unless the citizens and civil society are alert and government officers take their job seriously. We will have to wait till that happens and it appears that it will take a long time.
This time, Pema Khandu government has proposed that social audit of schemes and projects shall be encouraged “through a public portal which shall capture district-wise data of the physical progress and expenditure on different works”.
Opportunities are being given to common citizens to check implementation of government policies and programme. It is on the citizens whether they want to be part of it.
Prior to the budget, the department of Finance and Planning and Investment had invited suggestions from the common citizens to be incorporated in the budget proposal. Only 300 submissions came in from a state that has more than 12 lakh people and over 7000 registered organizations.
Exclude the rural population, which does not have access to internet or government policies and programmes, but urban population could have done better at least with submissions, lapping up rare and open opportunity extended by the government.
cynicism rules and therefore reluctance to take part in anything that is govt sponsored. With appalling unemployment and underemployment among the youths and lack of self employment opportunities, no one seems to know how to address the concerns and cynicism of the growing young population. Perhaps the first step is to stop the hijacking of all government schemes by politicians and government officers and those close to them. Time to ensure that opportunities are open for all.