Thiruvananthapuram, February 17, 2013
Vice-President M Hamid Ansari delivering the inaugural address at the K.M. Mani Centre for Budget Studies, in Thiruvananthpuram on February 17, 2013.
Vice-President M Hamid Ansari today inaugurated the K M Mani Centre for Budget Studies of the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and desribed it as a timely initiative which seeks to fill an existing gap in the scientific and technical understanding of budget accounting and analysis.
He said the setting up of the centre was particularly relevant at a time when fiscal imbalances in government finances were being globally blamed for most of the ills of national economies.
He also said it was befitting that the centre had been named after Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani, describing him as a distinguished public servant and political leader who has created history of sorts by presenting ten budgets in the State Legislative Assembly.
Mr Ansari stressed that the budget is not merely a statement of financial receipts and expenditure of the government but a significant political statement of government policy and its priorities for the economy.
"The budget reflects either the country’s or the state’s or the panchayat’s economy and shapes the direction in which the government of the day wants to take it as per its policies and priorities," he said.
"It is also a government’s plan for raising revenues through taxation, borrowing and incurring expenditure under the relevant heads. The government channelizes its financial resources thus raised in the various sectors of the economy and government. Given the finite nature of financial resources, budget making is an exercise in achieving a fine balance between competing objectives and priorities of the government, within the budgetary constraint," he said.
Mr Ansari said the importance of research and analysis in the technical and political aspects of budget making can be gauged from the fact that besides the Union and state governments, there are around 2.4 lakh local self government bodies, including panchayats and municipalities, which are in dire need of better budgetary management for financial viability and sustainability.
"They would be important beneficiaries of advanced research and training in this area. Especially, at a time, when there aren’t many institutions in the country dedicated to the study and research related to budget making and management," he said.
He noted that the major objective of the K. M. Mani Centre for Budget studies is to promote research in the theory and practice of public budget and budget-making, as well as classification, analysis, accountability and management of budgets in democratic countries, with special focus on India’s fiscal federalism. In due course, the Centre would also endeavour to start a post-graduate course in budget and budget management.
It also proposes to undertake other areas for study, such as local government budgeting, with focus on Kerala and state, sub-state level fiscal relations.
It also proposes to establish an archive of Travancore, Cochin, Travancore-Cochin and Kerala Budgets from 1957-58 till present; institute a long-term project on the political economy of budgets and budget making in Kerala; create cadre of experts on budgets and public budget making; and establish a State Budget Observatory which provides detailed findings of studies and research concerning the state and local finances of Kerala.
"The Centre opens a whole range of opportunities for learning and research in the area of budget studies. I hope that the Centre will initiate a new chapter in the annals of public finances research, with emphasis on sub-national finances, thereby, laying the foundation of a new centre of excellence in budget studies and related policy formulations, for the benefit of Kerala and the entire country," Mr Ansari added.
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