Case Study: Budget for Education, CBPS India

The Centre for Budget and Policy Studies (CBPS) based in Bangalore, India conducted the study: “The Budget for Education,” which collects and examines all the available information on education expenditure at the district level in Karnataka, India. The study was undertaken in cooperation with the Commissioner for Public Instruction in Bangalore and the Department of Education of the government of Karnataka, which is currently supporting different studies that will assist them in the formulation of budget policies. On February 9, 2002 The Economic and Political Weekly of India covered the findings of this study and highlighted the lengthy and complicated systems through which funds have to pass before they reach the schools.

This study is particularly relevant because it begins the task of collecting and processing data on education budgets at the local level. It serves as a handbook for budget analysts and researchers who depend on government sources of data for their work. It provides a useful model to show how civil society can work with government to produce resources without compromising their own independence or the government’s authority. District officials will be able to find their own information organized in comparable time series. This handbook attempts to promote a greater fact-based dialogue at the local level.

The study found that centrally planned and monitored programs make it very hard to identify the correlation between the initial budget allocated for education and the amount that finally reaches the districts. The review of allocation and expenditure data revealed major fluctuations over time within and across districts. CBPS observes that data for total expenditure at the district level still needs to be disaggregated and presented to the panchayat – village council – on a regular basis, to enable effective monitoring at the local level. This is one of the ways where NGOs can start working with state and federal governments to unlock the blockages to resource distribution at the village level. In order to do so, panchayat or district responsibilities and capacities need to be strengthened. For more information on this report, contact Vinod Vyasulu at [email protected].


Human Rights and Budget Work Meeting

The international movement to advance human rights and the growing worldwide movement to bring citizens to the table in debates over public budgets are two efforts with a common goal: the advancement of human dignity and justice. Historically, however, these two movements have worked separately. Cuernavaca, Mexico was the site of a recent workshop that sought to build bridges between them. The small meeting was attended by human rights experts and budget experts from various parts of the world.

During the 23-26 January workshop, organized by the Ford Foundation and Fundar in Mexico, individuals working in each area learned about the underlying assumptions, basic concepts, terminology, and key issues of the other area. Points of potential misunderstanding or discomfort were aired and discussed. The second day of the meeting was devoted to in-depth discussion of four case studies. Two were provided by human rights organizations and two by organizations using applied budget analysis. Participants considered how each of the cases might have been made stronger by fuller incorporation of concepts and approaches employed by the other movement. Workshop participants were enthusiastic about and encouraged by the information and insights they gained during the two days. They were unanimous in concluding that there is great potential for future collaboration between organizations working in the two areas.

The third and final day of the meeting was devoted to determining how best to proceed after the workshop. It was agreed that further work would be done on two or three of the case studies, as “tests” to develop a fuller sense of how collaboration might strengthen each other’s work. Another idea was to produce two handbooks. One on human rights principles useful to budget analysis and the other on basic budget analysis tools that can be useful for human rights activists. Opportunities will be identified for activists in each movement to take part in training sponsored by the other. It was also agreed that the IBP, in collaboration with the International Human Rights Internship Program, would develop a section on the IBP website to explore the interaction between applied budget analysis and economic and social human rights. This will be the first of a series of themes that will be featured at the IBP website’s new thematic section (under construction). This new space will highlight the Cuernavaca meeting and include the case studies reviewed at the workshop and other related papers and resources, as well as basic information about each movement and about future collaborations between them.



Budgeting for Socioeconomic Rights of Children, IDASA, South Africa

The Children’s Budget Unit at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa recently released its fourth Children’s Budget Book titled “Budgeting for Child Socio-economic Rights – Government Obligations and the Child’s Right to Social Security and Education in South Africa.” The study uncovers the government’s budget obligations for the delivery of child socioeconomic rights; it develops a methodology to evaluate government’s performance in budgeting for child socioeconomic rights in South Africa; and it pilots this methodology by using it to examine whether the government has been budgeting, as it is obliged to, for the delivery of the child’s right to social security and basic education.

Expenditure trends show increasing priority from the government as seen in the growing access to basic education by disabled children in rural areas. However, this innovative study encountered difficult application problems. International conventions may be too vague to allow a rigorous assessment of government expenditures relative to the obligations the convention establishes. The study also notes the lack of data to support such work – in particular data on sub-national social security expenditure, racial and gender profiling – and output data, undermined the application of the new methodology in these areas.

The book argues that budget analysis will work more effectively as a tool for child socioeconomic rights over time as better data is acquired and consensus is reached on the concepts of ‘progressive realization’, ‘minimum core socioeconomic rights’, and ‘maximum available resources’ and their implications for budget analysis.



Budget Workshop at Second World Social Forum

From January 31st – February 5th, the Second World Social Forum took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Social Forum is organized as an alternative event to the World Economic Forum, which was held this year in New York City. Around 45,000 attendees gathered to analyze social, economic, and political trends. This year budget issues were widely covered in plenary sessions, seminars, and workshops. The variety of topics discussed included participatory budgeting; gender budget analysis; the impact of structural adjustment and its effect on public spending; and civil society participation in the budget process. These discussions were coordinated by Alternative Policies to South Cone (PACS); the Brazilian Institute for Social and Economic Analysis (IBASE); and the Institute for Social and Economic Studies (INESC), amongst others.

The results of the Latin American Budget Transparency Index, featured in the IBP Newsletter No. 7, were presented at a panel discussion coordinated by UNAFISCO Sindical, Brazil; Community Voices Heard, United States; and Fundar, Mexico. The presentation drew great interest amongst the participants who acknowledged the common challenges shared by many more countries in the region, and the possibilities for broadening the application of the index in the future. Community Voices Heard focused on municipal and state budgets, an area in which Brazil has developed innovative schemes for participation. The session also heard about the formation of a new civil society coalition to follow up the Brazilian federal budget. This coalition includes by PACS; IBASE; the Federal Council of Economists; the Federal Council of Social Assistants and Fiscal Responsibility Network; and INESC.

To visit the Second World Social Forum 2002 website, click here.



Tax Day in South Korea

The “Tax Day Celebration” conference was held in Seoul, South Korea from 1-2 March. The two-day conference was organized by Citizens Action Network (CAN), an NGO based in Seoul that works on a broad range of issues including promoting accountability through budget watch activities. The focus of the conference was preventing budget waste and improving citizen participation in the budget process. It was attended by representatives of NGOs from across Korea that work on a variety of issues including economic justice, women’s issues, transportation, and the environment.

The first day of the conference included workshop sessions dealing with several topics including a case study of the Brazilian model of participatory budgeting and a discussion of efforts to create a “taxpayer bill of rights” in South Korea. The second day of the conference included a forum on issues related to budget waste and budget transparency. Some of the specific issues covered during the forum were: an overview of budget waste issues in Korea; a presentation by an IBP representative on efforts to measure budget transparency at both the international and U.S. state level; a comparative analysis of U.S. and Korean NGOs; a discussion of women’s budget issues; and a discussion of budgeting for cultural events in South Korea. A representative from the South Korean Ministry of Planning and Budget participated in the forum as a discussant.

The conference generated significant interest in the issues of budget transparency and improving participation in the budget process. The International Budget Partnership will continue to work with South Korean NGOs to assist in opening up and improving the budget process.



Caspian Sea Project

The useful role that applied budget work can play is becoming evident in a variety of contexts. Take, for instance, the recent establishment of a Caspian Revenue Watch initiative by the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute. Countries of the Caspian region will experience a sharp growth in revenues from natural resources such as oil and gas in the coming decade. These revenues are more likely to benefit the public if they are raised and dispersed in a transparent manner, which is the goal of this new initiative. The Open Society Institute has created an Advisory Group to provide input into this complex effort; its membership includes representatives from rights groups, the media, oil and gas experts, as well as the IBP.



New Papers on the IBP Website Library

The Health Budget in Karnataka
by A. Indira and Vinod Vyasulu, Center for Budget and Policy Studies
This study looks at public health expenditure data in the state of Karnataka, India. It analyzes urban and rural health services, as well as revenue, capital, and loan accounts for public health services and other related sectors like water supply and sanitation; social security and welfare; nutrition; and family welfare.

Child-Focused Budget Study: Assessing the Rights to Education of Children with Disabilities in Vietnam
by Save the Children, Sweden
The focus of this study is the budget for education at the district level in Vietnam. It examines three elementary schools, which are conducting inclusive education for children with disabilities. The study aims to analyze the budget process from the central level down to the district level, as well as to obtain relevant information on the content of school budgets. By identifying the role of various institutions and their channels for budget intervention, the study also clarifies crucial links between policy commitments and actual outcomes.

Dollars and Sense for a Better Childhood: A Palestinian Child-Focused Budget Study
by Save the Children, Sweden and the Secretariat for the National Plan of Action for Palestinian Children
The study gives a brief introduction to the history and socio-economic status of the West Bank/Palestine. The report is organized around four main elements: a) a guide to the Palestinian budget from a child rights perspective with a general overview of social sector spending; b) an analysis of education spending in Palestine; c) an assessment of the Palestinian social welfare sector; and d) a child-focused budget comparison of two Palestinian municipalities. By extracting lessons from these four components, the study hopes to inform legislators, ministerial finance departments, civil society, and children themselves about the budgetary issues and processes that impact upon child rights in Palestine.

Building a Consensus for Fiscal Reform: The Chilean Case
by Mario Marcel and Marcelo Tokman, OECD
This paper was presented at the Forum on Ensuring Accountability and Transparency in the Public Sector held in December 2001 in Brasilia, Brazil, organized in cooperation with the Public Ethics Commission and Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, Brazil, and in association with United Nations, Escola de Administração Fazendária (ESAF) and Escola Nacional de Administração Pública (ENAP), Brazil. The paper describes the second generation of fiscal reforms aimed at strengthening fiscal governance implemented in Chile since the mid-1990s.

Performance and Transparency: Are Australia’s “Leading Edge” Systems Really Working?
by Tyrone M. Carlin, OECD
This paper was presented at the Forum on Ensuring Accountability and Transparency in the Public Sector held in December 2001 in Brasilia, Brazil, organized in cooperation with the Public Ethics Commission and Ministry of Planning, Budget and Management, Brazil, and in association with United Nations, the “Administration and Public Finance School” (Escola de Administração Fazendária) (ESAF), and the “National School for Public Administration” (Escola Nacional de Administração Pública) (ENAP), Brazil. The author examines a set of budget documents to identify the use of performance information within current budget analysis.

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: A new convergence. What does it miss, and what can be done about it?
by David Craig and Doug Porter, University of Auckland and Asian Development Bank
This paper was prepared for the Regional Conference on National Poverty Reduction Strategies that took place in Hanoi, Vietnam on December 2001. It offers an assessment of the impact and weaknesses of PRSPs as multidimensional approaches to poverty using New Zealand and Uganda as case studies.