Do you know how your taxes are spent?
Tucked away in the far corners of Purnea in eastern Bihar, Accountability Initiative researchers encountered a school that had recently received government money to purchase fire extinguishers. This money had been provided with instructions from the State government to ensure that all schools were adequately equipped to deal with emergencies. Who could object to that? Except this school was still awaiting money needed to start construction on its school building!
The “building-less” school (as defined in government records) in Purnea is not alone. Over the years, we have come across scores of instances where government funds reach last mile facilities (schools, clinic, Anganwadi centres), Panchayats and municipalities with instructions for expenditure that have little connection to ground realities.
Why does this happen? Why does development expenditure in India often have such little relevance to the everyday realities on the ground?
One important reason for this is that public money travels from the Union government to the ground through a fragmented, circuitous maze. This maze is opaque and difficult to track thus causing delays, inefficiencies and misuse. The result is an expenditure management system that encourages distortions.
Watch our video to learn more about the complicated world of development finances and how Accountability Initiative research aims to untangle some parts of the public finance web.
To learn more, visit our website: www.accountabilityindia.in