Table of Contents

  • The Commonwealth Secretariat has played a pioneering role in conceptualising genderresponsive budgeting (GRB) and initiated the development of relevant tools and methodo - logies. The promotion and implementation of GRB has been a key focus of the work of the Secretariat’s gender programme for a number of years. Since 2005, Commonwealth Finance Ministers have committed to promoting and implementing GRB, and their meetings have reviewed progress every two years. GRB has also been endorsed by Common - wealth Heads of Government Meetings, including in the 2007 Kampala Communiqué.

  • At the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, representatives from the developing world shared their growing impatience about the slow pace of improvements in gender relations. Even in countries that had long ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, policy makers had failed to do enough towards fulfilling those promises. Therefore, it was necessary not only to demand more concrete commitments from governments but also to closely monitor each government’s actions on all fronts, starting with an analysis of its relative financial priorities and the administrative machinery that it sets up to fulfil those priorities.

  • The GOI – officially referred to as the Union Government – is the governing body of a federal union of 28 states (each with its own elected government) and seven union, i.e. centrally administered, territories. The system of governance was initially designed to have two tiers, the Union and the states; however, in 1992, Parliament passed the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution to set up and constitutionally recognise a third tier of government at local levels: panchayets in rural areas and municipal bodies in urban areas.3 Each state in its turn was authorised to create further two or three tiers within local governments to facilitate greater decentralisation of functions. Now, besides the GOI and the state governments, India has around a quarter of a million local governments.

  • For the GOI, the most important change in its resource mobilisation practices was the shift in the composition of its tax receipts. As Table 2.2 showed, the weight of taxes on trade has gone down significantly while that of direct taxes has risen fast. From 1990/91 to 2003/04, the share of direct taxes in the GOI’s total tax revenue rose from less than 20 per cent to over 40 per cent; at the same time, receipts of customs duties fell from 36 per cent to less than 20 per cent. On the whole, the GOI’s tax receipts as a percentage of the country’s GDP have been slowly going back to their earlier level of around 10 per cent. In other words, the GOI is now deriving approximately the same percentage of GDP as tax receipts as before but from a different set of taxes.

  • There have recently been a number of attempts at gender- and poverty-sensitive analyses of government budgets in India. The initial focus has been on the expenditure side of the budget because it includes many programmes that are targeted towards women and the poor. The revenue side of the budget has received a lot less attention because, at first glance, not many of the poor and especially women among them appear to be taxpayers of any significance. The only taxes that they do pay are sales taxes (also taxes on imports and exports) because they buy some of the taxed commodities. The available data on consumption expenditure does not permit a gendered analysis because the information is on a household rather than individual basis, though one can do a partial class analysis. For example, given the amount spent by those below the poverty line on food and kerosene in 1987/88, the steep rise in the prices of these commodities because of cuts in government subsidies25 between 1991 and 1993/94 reduced families’ real incomes by about 20 per cent between 1987/88 and 1993/94 (Banerjee, 2004). However, there was no information about what were the class-wise demand elasticities for those items, what kind of adjustments were possible for those families and how the costs of those adjustments were distributed between different members of the families. To that extent the analysis was misleading about the final outcome.