A non-profit organisation, the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), on Friday announced launch of a web portal to make available government budget data in accessible and formats like Excel sheets.
The portal will carry budget information of different tiers in the governance such as union budget, state budgets, and budgets of various municipal corporations across the country in accessible and open formats.
“About 4,400 data sets on budgets are available on the portal right now. As of now we only have data sets but not data base. However, in India there is not enough public demand that data on budgets should be available to them,” CBGA Executive Director Subrat Das said.
Former Finance Secretary Sumit Bose, who was speaking on ‘Perspectives on Opening up Access to Budget Data in India’, said budgets are complicated data and also there are some fundamental regulations in system that often makes one set of data incomparable with another and hence hinders accessibility.
In developing the data portal, organisations such as Budget Analysis Rajasthan Centre (BARC), Centre for Internet and Society, DataKind, DataMeet, National Foundation of India, National Centre for Advocacy Studies and Pathey Budget Centre have been working for past one-and-a-half year, CBGA said.
In the beta version of the portal, a chunk of budget data is in machine readable formats (ie CSVs and MS-Excel) instead of only PDFs, and follows the impediment that open data needs to be available in machine readable format so that it is convertible from machine language to human language of understanding, it said.
The data portal assumes a significance, as a large number of organisations working in various fields find it difficult to access relevant data when they want to access government budgets and accounts of the state, CBGA said.
In the portal, as many as 26 states’ data set on budget is available, even for the latest financial year online.