Child responsive budgeting as a public finance management tool: A case of Karnataka, India

Author name: 
Jacob, F J

Child Responsive Budgeting (CRB) is a specifically targeted Public Finance Management (PFM) tool to integrate the concerns pertaining to children in the policy planning and budgetary frameworks. This is particularly relevant in the present humanitarian crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, affecting all the three dimensions of human development – in particular income, health and education. I explore the efficacy of ‘child budgeting’ in public financial management (PFM) to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. I argue that this should be an essential component of government’s fiscal responses. The study is an ex-post analysis of child centric allocation (CCA) in the State Budget of Karnataka from 2017-18 (accounts) to 2020-21BE and an assessment of budget credibility of these allocations using the fiscal marksmanship and Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Public Finance Management (PEFA PFM) assessment framework. The analysis brings out serious lacuna in actual utilisation of child centric allocations, indicating poor budget credibility in the allocation for child specific programmes. Besides, the glaring digital divide and the fragile anthropometric status of children in the State of Karnataka, coupled with underspending of child centric allocation in the State Budget, reveals that the State is underequipped to deal with a catastrophic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, where children are deprived of both healthcare and access to education.

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