Govt told to upload budget in Excel, Word formats
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By Our Special Correspondent | 6/9/2016 12:00:00 AM
LAHORE: The Punjab Information Commission on Wednesday ordered the provincial government to post on its website all documents related to the annual budget and development projects so that these could easily be accessed, downloaded, searched and independently analysed by theinterested citizens.

In the order addressed to the Planning and Development (P&D) Board, Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and the Finance Department, the commission said it had been brought to its notice that sufficient information about development projects, budget allocations, supplementary grants, re-appropriations, release of funds and expenditures was not being proactively disclosed in such a manner that citizens could optimally benefit from it.

In many instances, the documents about budget or development projects being uploaded on websites were in PDF format, which could not be easily searched or analysed. Furthermore, the persons with visual disabilities find itdifficult to read PDF documents with the assistance of available software.

It had also been observed that, while budget documents in PDF formats might be published on websites, information about release of funds, supplementary grants, expenditures and re-appropriations, was not posted on websites in a timely manner.

This state of affairs was making it hard for citizens to search, track, download and analyse budgets. As a result, they could not provide meaningful inputs to the top management in the public bodies for timely redress of inefficiencies or grievances, if any.

It was also inconsistent with the government`s policy of transparency in governance, the letter andspirit of Article 19-A of the Constitution and provisions of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013.

Therefore, the commission ordered, all documents related to annual budget and development projects should be posted on the websites in, inter alia, Excel and Word formats, so that these could be easily accessed, downloaded, searched and independently analysed by citizens.

Information about release of funds, re-appropriations, supplementary grants and expenditures should also be posted on the websites in real time, so as to ensure maximum transparency in the entire spectrum of budget process.

Budget information should be presented in such a manner that itcould be searched against a range of search options such as department-wise, institution-wise, district-tehsil-wise, constituencywise (where it related to development projects), local governmentwise, project-wise, year-month-wise.

The PITBshouldtake theleadin terms of developing and managing appropriate online portals in coordination with the Finance Department and P&D.

`This order may be implemented in an expeditious manner and a compliance report should be submitted by July 20, 2016. In the meanwhile, the PITB should keep the commission informed about the progress as well as challenges, if any,` the commission ordered.