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Zahra Lodhi is the Project Manager - Strengthening Civil Society for Improved Accountability at the Center for Peace and Development Initiatives. Zahra started her career as a Research Associate at Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Government of Pakistan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The key to practical democracy is the active involvement of citizens in every aspect of governance; and budget as an imperative instrument of governance is no exception. However, the budget-making process in Pakistan has been closed and largely opaque and people in general have little opportunity to participate in the process that affects the quality of their lives directly.
In recent decades budget transparency has become a pillar of good governance around the world, but in Pakistan a lot of work still needs to be done. The budget making process in Pakistan is wrapped in curtains of secrecy, as both the government and political parties are taking no major steps to make this process participatory or peoples oriented.
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), an Islamabad-based think tank, conducted a study to monitor the process of budget making at the district level. The main aim of this study was to collect research based evidence and find out whether the district governments of Punjab are following the timelines and required procedures for the budget making process. The District Government Budget Rules 2003 lay a clear outline for different timelines and procedures to follow, including a clear requirement for people’s participation in the budget making process.
The survey results revealed very disturbing trends in budget formulation.Continue reading