The finance ministry is finding ways to make the governments accounts and budget more transparent. The next budget will be more transparent in terms of presenting ways in which money is spent and we are making it clear to all departments booking large amounts of expenditure under the head of other expenditure, said a senior official, who did not wish to be named.
The finance ministrys move comes at a time when the external auditor, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), has criticised the central government for opaqueness in government account books.
Scrutiny of Union government finance accounts 2007-08 disclosed that Rs 20,273.52 crore under 28 major heads of accountsrepresenting functions of the governmentwas classified under the minor head 800 other expenditure in accounts constituting more than 50% of the total expenditure recorded under the respective major heads, said the CAG, in a report released last month.
The finance ministry has made it clear to various departments that henceforth only 10% of total expenditure can be shown under this subhead. That expenditure head (other expenditure) was started to accommodate contingencies because it is hard to foresee every small scheme or area where money may be spent. Off late, much higher portions of the expenditures have been allotted under this head. So, this measure is intended to rectify this, said the official.
An official in the CAGs office, who did not wish to be named, said: While increasing amounts under this subhead does not necessarily imply misappropriation of funds, we will have to ask questions about transparency and possible misuse of these funds. If finance ministry is taking measures to address this issue, it is a welcome step.