How many accountants does it take to prepare budget documents whose figures do not contradict each other? Going by the glaring arithmetic mistakes in different documents of the Sindh budget for 2012-13, it is clear that the provincial government is in desperate need of competent accountants. Let’s take a look at some of its statistical errors.
In his budget speech on June 11, Sindh Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah claimed that the estimated year-on-year increase in revenues of the province in 2012-13 was going to be 18%. However, the official budget document released by the Sindh Finance Department titled “Salient Features of Budget 2012-13” put the estimated increase in provincial revenues at 24.5%.
Apparently, the rise of 24.5% was calculated using the figure of Rs458.42 billion, which was the original estimate of total receipts of the province in the ongoing fiscal year. But according to another budget document titled “Budget at a Glance – 2012-13”, the figure of Rs458.42 billion had already been revised upwards to Rs495.42 billion.
Thus, rather than 18% or 24.5%, the most concise budget document estimates the increase in total receipts of the province to be 15.21%.
Addressing the Sindh Assembly, the provincial finance minister said the total development portfolio for the upcoming fiscal year had been proposed at Rs231 billion as opposed to Rs164 billion in 2011-12, a hike of 40.85%.
But the “Salient Features of Budget 2012-13” offers a different set of statistics. “The unprecedented development outlay of Rs231.17 billion is 63.8% higher than budget estimates of Rs141 billion during the current financial year,” the document says, effectively putting a smaller amount for the outgoing year’s development portfolio, which led to a higher year-on-year increase in percentage terms.
But the Annual Budget Statement – another official document that contains estimates of development expenditures – reveals that the outgoing year’s estimate of Rs141 billion – which was used to calculate the 63.8% rise in the development funding – had already been revised to Rs155.86 billion.
Therefore, instead of 40.85% or 63.8% rise, the actual increase in the year-on-year development expenditure in 2012-13 is going to be 48.31%, according to the Annual Budget Statement.
Shah boasted that Rs111.96 billion, including the Annual Development Plan (ADP) allocation of Rs12.39 billion, had been set aside for education in 2012-13. The year-on-year surge in the allocation for education is going to be 50%, declared the finance minister.
However, the Annual Budget Statement says that the allocation for education is going to increase by 66.5% in the next fiscal year with total spending of Rs110.88 billion. Other than the total budget allocation for education, the finance minister also misquoted the ADP amount which, according to the Annual Budget Statement, is going to be Rs12.55 billion.
Published In The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2012.
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