I don’t know whether any other country in the world (just kidding, it is not as if I am an expert on Budgets around the world just felt good saying it) has its budget strewn in such mystery and secrecy like the Indian Budget. In today’s Globalized world the role of a central budget has diminished over the years which certainly is good. In my view, a Central (a.k.a. Federal for those of you who are from the USA) Budget should be more of a report card recording the performance of the government spending in the last 12 months and the outlook for next 12 months. The way Indian Budget has become over the years and is expected to function by common people, as the platform for all ministries and the entire government’s policy announcements. This has made the Finance Ministry the nodal point and hence the single biggest bottleneck of every government departments functions. If you ask what is the alternative, it is to let each ministry on a regular basis announce its plan for next 12 months after consultation with respective industry bodies. This can be much like the way the commerce ministry does its EXIM policy but with more teeth and power to each ministry to do its job better than what it is today.
Anyway coming back to the topic, I read this good pictorial workflow of how the Indian Budget process happens in LiveMint. It has some surprises like the key people in budget preparation are locked in the basement of North Block for the last 7 days and the only people allowed to see from outside world is the Finance Minister!. Good Read.