PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government and rural development department has notified budget rules for all three tiers of local government system in the province, giving powers to the respective deputy commissioners of overall oversight and guidance on the budget’s preparation and its submission to the district governments.

A relevant official told Dawn on Thursday that the deputy commissioner would be the principal accounting officer of the respective district government having several functions with respect to the budgeting of the district government.

“The budget rules are for the city district government, tehsil and municipal administration and village and neighbourhood councils. They have been based on the 2003 budget rules introduced under the Local Government Ordinance 2001 of the then military government of Musharraf,” he said.

He said for the first time, budgets rules had been framed for the village and neighbourhood councils in sharp contrast to those of 2003, which covered district and tehsil municipal administrations only.

Govt notifies budget rules for all tiers of LG system in KP

“Union councils being the lowest tier of the local government were not covered under the previous rules but now for the first time, rules have been framed for local government lowest tier,” he said.

The official said the local government department had focused on making corrections to lacunas existing in past rules in the new version.

“We have tried to ensure the accommodation of reforms introduced on provincial, national and international levels during this period into the body of these rules and improvement of community involvement in the local government system,” he said.

The official said under the 2003 local government system, budget rules was not completely synchronised with the provincial budgeting cycle and the current set of the rules had remedied this major flaw.

He said the provincial budget was presented in June but in the 2003 rules, the district budgeting process began a month later and lasted until September and thus, wasting around four months and leaving little time for the execution of development projects.

The official said the new budget rules attempted to synchronise the provincial and district budget cycles and thus, increasing time for projects to execute at district level.

“The new rules have bound the district government to start budget process in October every year when the province’s budget-making process begins with the issuance of budget call circular,” he said, adding that at the same time, the districts will also inform about their schemes.

The official said the district budget process would follow similar steps and thus, leading to the improved predictability of development projects, better performance and availability of sufficient funds.

He said under the new rules, district government would prepare a ‘citizen budget’ for the people’s understanding as the budget documents were very difficult to understand for them.

The official said in order to ensure the greater budgetary transparency and make it public through a mix of communication media, citizen budgets would be developed by the respective district officers (planning and finance).

He said it would be a non-technical completion of budget for a layman and would be developed on forms to be devised by the district governments.

The official said the new rules stated that the district governments would pay attention to the fiscal planning in a multi-year perspective.

He said it was a common practice to prepare budget for a single fiscal year, leaving little space for predictability in financial planning for medium to long term development schemes.

“However, each district government shall develop a medium-term district development plan and the annual development programme formulated each year shall be in line with the policy objectives of the district plan. The multiyear planning shall be based on a robust fiscal framework for determination of fiscal space requiring most realistic future revenue prospects and expenditures.”

The official said the medium term plan would be for a period of three years, including the ensuing financial year and two outer years, while the projections for the ‘outer year’ would be updated every year on ‘rolling basis’.

He said special focus had also been paid to ensure the integration of planning and budgeting.

About the powers given to the deputy commissioners, the official said the DC office was the principal accounting officer under the local government rules and that the budget rules should follow the overarching framework provided by the rules in question and couldn’t deviate from it.

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2016