Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, February 25th, 2021

Draft Budget Needs to be Balanced and Transparent

Law makers have rejected the draft budget for the second time citing imbalance, inclusion of national food program in the draft, loan and hefty budget for some departments were cited as reasons for not approving the budget draft. The parliament also recommended equalizing salaries of government employees. Approving budget plan has been a highly controversial issue and endorsed after many ifs and buts every year.
Balancing the development projects is rational suggestion by the parliament and the government has to modify the draft in line with the MPs’ recommendation. The parliament also asked for clarification in Codes 91 and 92 and the government has to be clear and transparent in this regard as well as in the emergency budget amounts proposed in the budget draft. It does not have the right to create additional structures and budget units without the parliament’s approval.
Abusing the two codes made the headline in national media last year as government officials widely spent the code without legal basis. That is to say corrupt officials used the codes for their self-interests as unnecessary and additional payments were made.
It is self-explanatory that corruption prevails within the government machinery and it created mistrust between MPs and government officials. With consideration to abuse of the two codes, MPs do not trust the officials and fear that they seek to add the codes in the budget structure to extend the room for corruption.
Corruption still exists within the government to a large extent. A recent finding shows that there exist a large number of ghost teachers and soldiers who have been on the payroll of the government. The findings show that the bulk part of the ghost government employees are teachers who just sign the attendance sheets without teaching. If law-enforcers and teachers, who are supposed to guide the society and educate the generations, are involved in corruption, then who is there to be trusted? The government has to fight the corruption and bring the ghost employees – be it teacher, soldier or any high-level employee – to justice and free rides have to be stopped.
It is believed that the two codes, if approved, will give a free hand for officials to spend the budget without a sense of responsibility. The government has to give clarification about the codes.
However, the next demand of MPs, which is equalizing the salaries of government employees, does not really seem rational. With a large number of government employees, a minor promotion in salaries will be a drastic change as a large amount of money will be required. It will be hard for the government to afford. But it will be possible if the government decrease the salaries of high-level officials as well as MPs so as to increase the salaries of school teachers. In such a case, the government can proportionate and balance the salaries of the government employees to some extent.
The second possible way is that the government has to figure out ghost soldiers and teachers, especially in areas where there is no school as a result of insecurity, and add those payments to the salaries of real teachers.
The issue of corruption is the main bone of contention between MPs and the government over approval of the budget draft. There has to be balance and rationality in the draft and necessary projects had to be included in the plan. It needs to be transparent.
Meanwhile, the government and MPs should not involve their personal or factional tendencies in the issue of national budget and stop exchanging harsh remarks or making decision out of retaliation. Both the government and MPs have to act rationally and try to reach an agreement over the approval of the budget in accordance with the real needs of the country. The government should make necessary adjustment to the budget plan.
The draft budget needs to be approved soon but based on rational judgement. MPs have to stand against corruption and do not approve the draft document if it leaves a loophole for abuse of the codes or extends room for corruption. Meanwhile, the government should not push for the parliament’s approval of unjust or imbalanced draft and modify it on legal and necessary basis.
Neither of the side should use the draft budget as a bargaining chip for their factional or ethnic interests and have to listen to the call of their conscience. Both sides should fight against corruption and any factors which contribute to corruption within the government.