The Centre

We are an independent non-profit organisation enhancing transparency and accountability in governance through rigorous analysis of policies and budgets, and fostering people's participation in public policy processes by demystifying them.

Evolution

Envisioned by a group of civil society leaders and academicians, CBGA was started in 2002 as a programme of National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS). It was set up as an independent organisation in 2005 with the mandate to promote transparent, accountable and participatory governance, and a people-centred perspective in preparation and implementation of budgets in India.

CBGA’s efforts are directed towards promoting

  • Transparent and accountable governance
  • People's participation in the discourse and processes of governance
  • A pro-people and rights-based policy environment, equity and social justice

Given the need for greater transparency and people's participation in the governance processes in the country, CBGA focuses on transparency in government budgets, spaces for people's participation in the processes that determine budgetary priorities, and the effectiveness of accountability mechanisms in this domain. However, in some cases, even a reasonably transparent and accountable system of governance might adopt an approach towards 'fiscal policy' that is not quite responsive to the needs and rights of the underprivileged sections. A significant part of CBGA's efforts, therefore, falls in the domain of in depth analysis of India's fiscal policy and related practices.

With the aim of facilitating progressive changes in policies, budgets and governance processes, CBGA carries out:

  • In depth research on a range of sectors and issues – focusing on
    • The policy framework and budgetary priorities,
    • The design of budgets at a disaggregated level, and
    • The bottlenecks in implementation
  • Dissemination of the research findings and policy asks through its in-house publications, external publications, website, consultations, panel discussions and roundtables
  • Fostering people’s participation in public policy processes by demystifying the technicalities in fiscal policy and budgetary processes, developing Primers and Manuals, and conducting Capacity Building Workshops
  • Engaging not only with policymakers at the national and State level but also with a large number of grassroots level civil society organisations across the country.

CBGA's efforts over the last decade have contributed towards bringing a range of new stakeholders into the discourse on government budgets, highlighting a number of issues relevant for the vulnerable sections of the population, and policy measures both at the national and State level for enhancing transparency in budgets.

Our research has generated substantive insights on:

  • How responsive government programmes and schemes are to regional and social diversity and other challenges in the country
  • Whether the pro-poor public policies are being backed with adequate budgetary resources or not
  • Institutional and procedural bottlenecks in the implementation of programmes / schemes.

The research work of the organisation focuses primarily on:

  • Policy framework and budgetary priorities for critical development sectors (like education, health, nutrition, drinking water and sanitation, and agriculture and food security)
  • Quality of government interventions in the social sectors (design of programmes and schemes and the constraints in fund utilization in those)
  • Responsiveness of budgets to disadvantaged sections of population (such as, women, children, dalits, adivasis, religious minorities, and persons with disabilities)
  • Policy framework and public investment strategies for climate change adaptation and mitigation (focusing on renewable energy in the latter)
  • Taxation and financial transparency issues
  • Transparency in budgets at various levels of governance.

CBGA has been working towards demystifying the discourse on budgets and governance in the country. This is a crucial step towards encouraging public understanding of budget related issues and promoting the participation of civil society in the discourse on budgets. CBGA also works towards enhancing the capacity of civil society organizations across the country for using budget work in their efforts pertaining to governance accountability.

Given that the budget-making process in India has been largely opaque, CBGA advocates for greater transparency and spaces for participation in budgetary processes in the country. In 2006, a number of civil society organisations got together to form the People’s Budget Initiative (PBI). CBGA serves as the secretariat of PBI. The coalition has been working towards strengthening the engagement of civil society in the budgetary processes at both the Union and the State levels. Over the years, PBI’s reach has grown to include over four hundred civil society organisations from across twenty States working on a wide range of issues. PBI has been highlighting the priorities for social sectors and the needs of the most disadvantaged sections of the society. CBGA also provides substantive research inputs to civil society organisations, networks and campaigns in the areas where its research work is focused.

People’s Budget Initiative (PBI) is a network of civil society organisations, people's movements and grassroots level NGOs from across the country. It came together in 2006 with the objective of democratising government budgets and budgetary processes in India. Since then, the network has been working towards strengthening people’s voice in policy-making processes that determine priorities in government budgets. Over the years, the reach of PBI has grown and more than three hundred organisations from twenty different States have joined in its efforts. Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability serves as the secretariat of this network. To know more about PBI, please visit www.pbiindia.net.

Recognising the need for greater transparency in the international financial system and taxation practices, CBGA collaborates with a number of progressive think tanks and civil society organisations from other countries in the global south. CBGA is a member of the Coordination Committee of Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC). FTC is a global network of civil society organisations, governments and experts that uses its wide reach and expertise to influence norms and standards for financial transparency and close loopholes in the global financial system. CBGA, as a Southern member of the Coalition, is committed to generating evidence regarding illicit financial flows and deepen engagement with Asian countries most affected by the problem.

Towards this end, the FTC Asia Network launched in 2014 aims to influence the norms and standards for financial transparency in the Asia region as well as globally. An important facet of the FTC Asia network includes capacity building of organisations to develop their skills for undertaking national level research around country specific issues of tax and financial transparency.

In the coming years, CBGA will continue to interrogate policies and inform debates through rigorous research and analysis on important development sectors, with a strong emphasis on the problems confronting the disadvantaged sections of population. It will strengthen the engagement and capacity building efforts with grassroots level organisations to contribute substantively towards a vibrant and informed discourse on governance. CBGA would also strive to scale up its communications and dissemination efforts so as to reach a much wider audience both within the country and globally.