Public Finance Management

Janaagraha’s Public Finance program aims to strengthen cities (municipalities/ULBs) in India by focusing on a select range of reforms across municipal finances & staffing/capacities which have the potential to bring about irreversible municipal strengthening.

The five reform areas we believe can set in motion a virtuous cycle which will result in irreversible municipal strengthening are:

a) Rationalizing fiscal decentralization
b) Optimizing city/ULB revenues
c) Creating a functional municipal borrowings market
d) Building institutional capacities (enhancing human capital)
e) Fostering transparency and accountability.

In the medium to long-term, these will help municipalities deliver better quality services and infrastructure.

Janaagraha’s Public Finance program works with (and supports) government institutions at all 3 levels – Union, State & Cities, and takes a three-track approach to encourage government action in the areas of municipal finance, capacities and citizen engagement, such as:

1) Policy advocacy at the national level (encouraging and promoting reforms)
2) Reform implementation support to state/city governments (creating proof-of-concepts)
3) Dissemination of playbooks to other state/city governments (helping achieve scale)

Intervention

At the national level, the program aspires to undertake targeted policy advocacy on the areas of fiscal decentralization, revenue optimization, infrastructure and municipal staffing. The focus is on supporting government institutions such as, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Central Finance Commission, State Finance Commissions, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, regulators, State Governments. This track is facilitated by:

1) Policy analyses
2) Data analyses (both for diagnosis)
3) Digital platforms, playbooks and toolkits
4) Targeted pilots with limited implementation support
5) Policy advocacy (for solutions and implementation).

The program also engages with and provides support to state governments (Urban Development departments) through a ‘Super PMU Model’, on undertaking comprehensive diagnosis of municipal finance systems, conceiving reform roadmap and recommendations, identifying pilots for implementation, and providing handholding (implementation) support to the state/ULBs, which could include any of the following:

1) Comprehensive fiscal sustainability analysis of ULBs, based on ULB annual accounts & budget statements, and conceives a roadmap of recommendations to improve their financial position and performance
2) Revenue optimization
3) Fiscal decentralization
4) Strengthening municipal staffing systems by undertaking landscape study in respect of availability of adequate number of staff, skills and competencies, organisation design and performance management; undertaking a feasibility study on municipal shared service centres and if found feasible, advocating for adoption by states
5) Facilitate infrastructure financing
6) Fiscal responsibility and budget management
7) Transparency and Accountability

Cityfinance.in

As part of transforming financial sustainability and financial accountability of urban local bodies for reforms in municipal finance and municipal staffing, we developed and now manage a national performance reporting framework and an online portal – Cityfinance.in – for information on municipal finance.

CityFinance aims to be the single source of truth for financial information on Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and drive reforms through both competition and peer learning. The platform also hosts the automated grants administration system of the 15th Finance Commission grants for ULBs across India.

Property Tax Reforms

To improve the quality of services delivered to citizens, inefficiencies in the property tax system is a critical issue to address. This is because lack of funds adversely affects service delivery capacity and property taxation is one of the largest sources of income generated by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).

Our program aims to improve estimation, periodical review and collection of property tax using established best practices. Also, it seeks to increase the revenue generated by ULBs, facilitate digitisation of the property tax collection process, promote data based decision making, and recognise the effort revenue officers put in.

To achieve this aim, we utilise our benchmarking resource – the Property Tax Toolkit – and an innovative initiative, the Municipal Premier League (MPL).

Property Tax Toolkit

This resource is the result of a study commissioned by MoHUA, India, and analyses various available models for effective estimation, periodical review and collection of property tax – with a focus on scalable best practices.

Municipal Premier League (MPL)

Conceptualized to provide impetus for increasing property tax collections of ULBs, participants are the people responsible for collection who compete with one another to collect maximum tax. The best performers are rewarded on pre-set parameters.

Municipal Reforms

Over the years, Janaagraha has engaged with, and provided technical assistance to, a wide range of government stakeholders and bodies, across union, state and city levels in India, for driving municipal finance reforms.
Janaagraha signed a MoU with the 15th Finance Commission, and undertook a study on Municipal Finance Blueprint for India. Details of a few of the key partnerships are provided below:

Janaagraha signed a MoU with the Department of Local Self Government, Government of Rajasthan, in November 2017, to partner with the state government on implementing municipal finance reforms in ULBs of the state. Janaagraha helped the State in putting in place a systematic process to improve quality of financial reporting in Rajasthan ULBs.
Janaagraha engaged with the Shivamogga City Corporation for the study and collection of data towards improving financial planning of the ULB, and publish a model Medium Term Fiscal Plan (MTFP) for the ULB.

Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Karnataka (BMTC)

Analysis of Workforce Management: Janaagraha has undertaken a study of best practices related to Cadre and Recruitment Rules in relation to recruitment and performance management of staff in the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation, Karnataka. The report can be accessed here.

Financial Brief: Janaagraha also published a brief on financial and operational management of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation. The report can be accessed here.

Commissioner and Directorate of Municipal Administration (CDMA), Telangana

Janaagraha has conducted a study on the adequacy of workforce and skill sets in accounting and revenue departments – CDMA, Telangana. Also published model provisions and advocated for amendments to Cadre and Recruitment rules specifically for Accounting and Revenue Departments in ULBs. The report can be accessed here.