Posted by Pratap Ranjan Jena (email@example.com), National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi
The PFM Performance Assessment Report for India (Download INDIA_PEFA2010) at the central Government level (carried out during the period March 2009 to June 2009) provides a comprehensive assessment of the current status of the PFM system following the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) framework. The performance of PFM systems, procedures, and practices are assessed based on six critical dimensions of the PEFA framework; credibility of the budget, comprehensiveness and transparency, policy-based budgeting, predictability and control in budget execution, accounting, recording and reporting, and external scrutiny and audit. Some of the major assessment results are summarized here. The assessment indicates both the strengths and weaknesses of the existing PFM system and serves as a baseline against which progress on PFM performance can be measured over time.
While the role of PFM systems in contributing to fiscal discipline, strategic resource allocation through better programme management, and improving service delivery has gained attention in India in recent years, the focus and implementation of reform initiatives in this regard leaves much to be desired. The initiatives to improve the PFM systems and processes in recent years include the introduction of outcome budget in 2005-06 to move to clearly defined outcomes of all government programmes, adoption of rule based fiscal management by enacting the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, appointing a Task Force to suggest reform measures to strengthen internal audit, initiating the process to move to an accrual based accounting system, revising the responsibilities and duties of the Financial Advisors placed in spending departments in a system of delegated financial powers, and tightening cash management through monthly expenditure limits. However, the intents did not match the outcomes due to discontinuities and indifferent implementation. The achievement of economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in PFM systems has remained elusive.