Letter to Manpreet Badal - 28/06/2009

Mr Manpreet S. Badal
Punjab Finance and Planning Minister
Chandigarh

28 June 2009

Dear Manpreet ji,

Budget must include measures of efficiency

Balancing the budget, resolving issues of taxation and expenditure, is a difficult task for any government and a stressful time for Finance Ministers.

Funds are invariably constrained, yet year on year additional funds are sanctioned knowing full well that accountability is poor and efficiency non-existent.

As the potential Minister for Efficiency, in addition to your current duties, you should be made responsible for the financial efficiency of all departments. Departmental funding statements should be accompanied with specified commitments to improve financial efficiency.

The financial efficiency and productivity of each department, a standard practice in most mature economies, could be measured by:

1. a concurrent financial efficiency audit

2. defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

3. defined Key Result Areas (KRAs)

All service users, be they farmers, nurses or industrialists, should be treated as clients. Regular client satisfaction surveys should be conducted.

Even if we achieve financial efficiency gains of 3% per annum the compounding effect of this over the term of a government will be significant.

There would be numerous relevant measures, e.g. if we measured the mean time taken for shagun scheme cheques to be encashed we would readily establish which officers hold on to cheques unfairly. Similarly, the mean time to replace a faulty electricity meter could be another measure.

All procurement of all departments should be web enabled with short windows for the submission of bids to prevent data being disseminated amongst bidders. This alone could save the PSEB hundreds of crores per year, more if we include power purchase in the system. Such a system would promote a new class of ethical supplier, replacing the current system of who pays the biggest bribe gets the contract.

I know you as someone who genuinely cares for Punjab and for the appropriate and efficient use of state funds. Therefore, I hope that you will at least make a start by incorporating some statistical measures to evaluate the delivery of governmental service.

Until you do so, sadly, the only reliable statistic will remain the quantum of the bribe that needs to be paid to get work done.

Yours sincerely,
Jassi Khangura MLA
Halqa Qila Raipur, Ludhiana

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