New Delhi: Civil society representatives today made out a case for greater budget transparency across the country, mainly at district and sub-district levels, to aid community engagement.
"Public access to information on government has been constrained in our country in a number of ways. The access to budget information diminishes as we go deeper from the level of the Union government to the sub-national level at the district and sub-district levels," they said at a briefing here.
"This gap has significantly constrained public engagement in Budget processes at the grassroots level."
Earlier in the day, they met with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley as part of their pre-Budget consultation with the government.
They demanded doubling of allocation towards the health sector and higher rate of sin tax on tobacco products and alcohol in the 2016-17 Budget.
They also suggested that allocation under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) be increased by Rs 5,000 crore and sought spending of 10 per cent of GDP on the education sector.
Talking to reporters, Subrat Das of Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability said a proposal has been made to the government to encourage states to enhance transparency in funds flow and utilisation at the district level.
This can be done by putting out in the public domain timely, relevant and accessible information at regular intervals during a year, he said.
The representatives included Amitabh Behar of National Foundation of India, Sreedhar Ramamoorthy of Mines Minerals and People, Deepa Sinha of Right to Food Campaign, Ashok Bharti from Natoinal Confederation of Dalit Organisation and Ambarish Rai of the Right to Education Forum.