Towards a new Manipur Budget 2022-23 with Outcome Budget
Budget is a major instrument to achieve the social and economic objectives of a Nation. Budget navigates the courses of change and attempts to speed up the momentum of development. The reckless violation of rationale of income generation and justification for expenditure defeats the noble purpose of growth, equity and justice;- and invites the atmosphere of peril and confusion. Fiscal discipline, institutional discipline and personal discipline should go together to ensure long term sustainable development with minimum short term pain. Of course equilibrium is borne out of disequilibrium. We have to face the disturbing experience during transition. Budget without Long Term Social and Economic Objectives becomes a nominal exercise. It should indicate objectives, priority and direction. It is about the generation, distribution and maintenance of National income. It is about activating idle resources. It is about leveraging the economy; not statement of income and expenditure.
The 6 pillars spelled out in Union Budget, 2021-22 such as Health and Wellbeing, Physical and Financial Capital and Infrastructure, Inclusive Development for Aspirational India, Reinvigorating Human Capital, Innovation, Research and Development and Minimum Government and Maximum Governance were, after exhaustive assessment of National Economy, carefully designed to achieve the National objective of USD 5 Trillion Economy of India by 2024-25.
The intensity of influence of a budget depends upon the extent of commercialization and level of development of the economy. A developed society has developed fiscal discipline and higher social sensibility. The reaction is sharp and far reaching. In a small economy of Manipur with large presence of family farms, micro enterprises and household business, people do hardly feel the impact of budget. There is a false perception also that budget is prerogative of few bureaucrats in the administration. Interestingly people in the State start thinking of existence of Government when they are threatened with blockades and bandhs;- not when budget has been presented in the Assembly. In Manipur who cares for State budge t? Remember finance is lubricant of all activities and key to investment and growth.
Regarding Manipur we are too much too long with incremental method of budgeting when the whole world has undergone spectacular change. A time has definitely come for Government of Manipur to prepare and present both Outcome Budget and Outlay Budget after a thorough evaluation of all sectors for tackling major challenges and achieve the objectives set out in “Manipur Vision 2030, Leaving No One Behind, Achieving Inclusive Growth and the Sustainable Development Goals. (GOM, Planning Department, 2019)”. It is the right time for a change.
The Outcome Budget is, perhaps, the real document we need today. We are now in a knowledge economy. Innovation is the soul of modern development. Going by the beaten track we may invite wilderness of policy paralysis and stagnation. Manipur cannot and should not remain isolated from the global change. While Outcome Budget informs us of both glory of achievement and disappointment of failure, it calls upon us to be sensitive and competitive in this age of competition.
The Outcome Budget unfolds before us what we have actually achieved so far, the gap between physical target and physical achievement, the mismatch between demand and supply, the internal disability, the external challenges, unpalatable cases of liquidity trap of a number of dwarfed units and also the range of possible options to address. This master document honestly underlines the grey areas of leaks and lags.
As such it is about introspection and self-realization. It inspires us to do better for a better tomorrow. Delhi Administration is a classic example of Outcome Budget. It speaks of transparency and accountability.
The State Budget 2022-23 is going to face a rough weather in view of crushing burden imposed by the spectre of captive economy, food deficit, mounting educated unemployment, flight of human capital and challenge of Act East Policy of India. Besides we have to create better investment atmosphere to attract private investment to boost the tottering economy.
What Manipur needs is a realistic document prepared on the basis of a number of optimization exercises, report of sectoral evaluation, analysis of critical options, resource plan and reform plan. It should also take into account the efficacies of present Agricultural Policy, Industrial Policy, Health Policy, Education Policy, Employment Policy and Environment Policy.
We have to keep in mind that budget, the institutional product, seeks to establish the functional linkages among past experience, present priority and future projection. Timeliness of closure and reporting remains a problem in States like Manipur. The linkage gets distorted. The correct information based on physical achievement is a critical input for budget management. Incorrect information leads to inability to act correctly. Here lies the added importance of Output Budget. Of course, it involves additional responsibility. This is the reason why Manipur needs both Outcome Budget and Outlay Budget. Yes, the Gender Budget is important, but more important is the Outcome Budget and much more important is the change. Writer was a Professor of Economics, MU.