Institute for Sustainable Development and Governance (ISDG) is a public policy research organisation engaged in research and documentation, capacity development, knowledge networking and advocacy, particularly in the area of budget transparency and accountability, public services, rural as well as urban governance and sustainable human development.  ISDG also seeks to promote dialogue among policy makers, media and civil society organizations and citizens groups. ISDG strives to bring greater transparency and people’s participation in the governance processes in Kerala.


A multi-stakeholder network of civil society activists, researchers, media persons and policy experts called SABAN (Social Accountability and Budget Analysis Network) has been formed in the state in 2013 with the aim of building a knowledge network to promote transparency and accountability in budgeting and governance. ISDG serves as the secretariat of SABAN.


Budget is a public document which calls for the necessities of public accountability. Usually budgetary practices carry with it a veil of secrecy even after ratification by the legislature. Consequently, the citizenry is forbidden from getting adequate information about the sources and utilization of revenue. ISDG has been consistently holding advocacy dialogues in these directions.

As part of this endeavour, ISDG, in association with SABAN, conducted a multi-stakeholder pre-budget consultation with eminent economists, members of various civil societies and the general public on Jan 15th 2018.


During this consultative session, held against the backdrop of state budgeting, with representatives from civil society organisations, experts from public finance and researchers along with the ISDG team, several proposals emerged. The workable and meaningful suggestions that are transpired as a result of the consultation have been summarised in the form of a Charter of Demands and is presented herewith.

The suggestions have been categorized, for convenience, under five heads viz.

(1) Mobilisation of Resources (2) Allocation of Resources (3) Utilization of Resources (4) Management of Expenditure and (5) General Suggestions.










  1. Allocation of Resources: Keep the focus on how allotted funds have been spent.


  1. Increase the allocation for social sectors, particularly of education and health.

Ensure utilization of funds along with a progressive increase in the allocation for social sectors. A quarterly performance monitoring system be evolved and a social audit on the expenditure be carried out.


  1. Increase the allocation for women and children.

Implement gender and child responsive budgeting at all levels of government. Implement specific programmes to ensure women’s safety and to stop all kinds of violence against women.


  1. Promote entrepreneurship in SC/ST community.

At least 25% of total SCSP outlay should be allocated for promoting entrepreneurship, supporting start-ups etc. which would result in sustainable economic empowerment of these sections.


  1. Increase the allocation of funds for scholarships and post-metric hostel facilities for SC/ST students.

As a progressive measure to arrest the number of dropouts of the SC/ST students, there needs to be an increased allocation of funds to implement a comprehensive programme to fill the lacuna and upgrade the existing facilities. Denied and lapsed amount of Special Component Plan (SCP), including those of the 11th and 12th Five Year Plan period, should be compensated.


  1. Integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in state planning and earmark funds for attaining the major goals.

Integrate Sustainable Development Goals in the process of planning and budgeting and a regular annual reporting on the extent and quality of expenditure on SDGs. The major goals are to be attained within the time frame.


  1. Utilization of Resources: The focal point needs to be the benefits various groups of people accrued from incurred public expenditure.


  1. Bring a mechanism to check the quality of expenditures and their outcome. Government must bring out quarterly report on the budget expenditure and quality of expenditure. Set up beneficiaries committees to oversee the construction of public buildings/roads by PWD and other authorised agencies to cap the leakage of funds. This will guarantee quality of assets created and save substantial revenue.


  1. Fund-gap should not deter the proper utilization of plants and equipments already purchased by various departments under various plan schemes.

Assets acquired by various departments remain unused for lack of maintenance funds and funds for the purchase of   complementary and auxiliary items. Complex administrative and official procedures deter the timely availability of such funds.

  1. Ensure budget accountability and transparency.

Budget details should be made available to the public. A quarterly budget review and analysis should be made available in the public domain, accessible to all citizens of the state. Ensure full budget transparency, including voucher level of reporting in the ‘Plan Space’ of the Planning Board. Ensure that all the budget and contract details of all public work is prominently displayed in the sites of construction of roads, bridges and all infrastructure projects of the government.

  1. Conduct periodic audit for government funded research organizations.

Ensure a quarterly audit of all research organizations, fully funded by the government, to ensure their accountability and transparency.


  • Management of Expenditure: Ensure that there is no wastage in the use of public money.


  1. Ensure judicious fiscal management.

The allocation of development funds for social sector projects and infrastructure should be from the first quarter itself. The present practice of releasing government funds for various development projects in the last quarter affect the quality of expenditure and increase the chances of corruption and eventually fail to deliver anything on time. Hence it is important to prioritize the expenditure on development projects from the first quarter of the year.

  1. Adopt bold initiatives for more accountable tax administration.

There has to be more accountable ways of tax administration in order to ensure tax compliance and doing away with tax avoidance and evasion.


  1. Curb wasteful expenses created by Government Statutory Bodies and Commissions

In Kerala, we have so many Commissions/authorities /bodies for various purposes. Government can reorganize the Commissions with retired persons and remuneration can be adjusted either through pension or salary which in turn will reduce unnecessary expenditure. Government can use the service of retired persons for various government services without causing any challenge to employment generation.


  1. Ensure open process for the ‘grant-in-aid’ of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and NGOs in Kerala.

While it is indeed a welcome initiative to support civil society organisations and civil society research centres, there is a need to have transparency and accountability on this. It is important to have clear criteria to avoid the perception that CSOs/NGOs aligning with ruling party are given a ‘favour’ and such favouritism may hamper the credibility of the process of budgeting.


  1. Mobilization of Resources: Initiate steps to increase state’s own tax and non-tax buoyancy


  1. Increase the fees collected from well-to-do students of higher education on a pre-determined periodical basis.


A significant portion of the subsidies, inbuilt in the public expenditure in health and education, is flowing to the well-to-do sections of Kerala society. During 1972-73, the fee collected in the form of user charges formed 5.55% of revenue expenditure. This has fallen to 1.99% in 2016-17 (Budget estimates). Tuition fee collected from the privileged sections has remained unreasonably low for several years. While retaining concessions for the deserving classes, this may be hiked on a predetermined periodical basis.


  1. Increase royalty from mines and quarries.

Environmental protection and sustainable development is the need of the hour in the current world scenario. To achieve this in Kerala, we propose to the government that the royalties received from the mines and quarries be increased.


  1. Increase the rent for the leased government land in prime locations in tandem with the market prices.

The scarcity of land has a direct effect on the prices, but as the government do hold lands in prime locations across the state, there is enormous potential to earn income from them. This could be through increasing the rent in tandem with market prices. 


  1. Impose higher penalties/fines for traffic rule violators.

The government may use this as an indirect measure primarily to reduce the incident of road accidents in the state.


  1. Charge additional motor vehicle tax on households/individuals with more than one vehicle.

Kerala can follow the model proposed by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka government in taxing the additional vehicle purchased by any household, if they already own a primary vehicle. Make collection of taxes more effective and efficient.


  1. Minimise the extent of executive stays/moratorium that reflects as revenue forgone in the budget.

The amount of revenue forgone in both union and state budget has been steadily increasing over a period of time. A close examination reveals that this has disproportionately helped the elite classes who have the ability to pay.



  1. General Suggestions


  1. Adopt measures for efficient disaster mitigation.

Ensure a participatory disaster mitigation mechanism with the help of local government. Take necessary steps to ensure fire-safety measures and fire-response mechanism for all high rise buildings, malls and cinema theatres in the state. Provide boat ambulance for fisher folks in all districts of Kerala. Ensure communication and early warning system in all boats of the fishermen.


  1. Ensure provision of land to the landless people.

Take measures to safeguard the land rights of the landless, particularly those from Adivasi and Dalit communities. The ongoing initiative to distribute flats instead of land, without considering the context of livelihood and habitat, needs to be reversed.


  1. Make funds allotted under SCSP and TSP non-lapsable and non-divertible.

Bring a legislation to treat the funds allotted under the SCSP and TSP non-lapsable and non-divertible along with provisions of penalty and punishments for denying/misusing /diverting SCSP and TSP.

  1. Legislate a consultative process for budget with stakeholders including SC and ST population.

The government should legislate a state level mandatory budget consultative process with all stakeholders, including SC and ST sections, to engage in planning of SCSP and TSP.


  1. Link clean environment directly with the health of the people.

Bring legislation to confer para-medical status to workers indulged in sweeping and cleaning of public places and in sanitation activities.

  1. Strengthen primary health care centres.

Strengthen the primary health care centres through a proper doctor patient ratio to deal with life style diseases. Improve infrastructure facilities in primary health care centres.


  1. Initiate effective awareness campaign to reduce road accidents.

Organise awareness drive on safe and sensible driving among public transport, taxi and auto drivers, motorcyclists, school and college students etc.



Leave a Reply