Working Paper

National Budgets, Social Spending and Public Choices: The Case of Bangladesh

Published on 1 January 2002

This exploratory study looks at the factors shaping the formulation and implementation of national budgets in Bangladesh with an emphasis on the determinants of public social spending. By considering the actual budgetary outcomes as the ‘revealed’ public choice, the deviations from the stated economic policy objectives are examined.

While few generalisations can be made, the study highlights the complex interactions of economic, political and bureaucratic incentives and institutions underlying the budgetary processes. One finding is that, given the weaknesses of the democratic institutions in Bangladesh, there seem to be at work some non-institutional mechanisms for ensuring public accountability, such as through civic activism, a free press and widespread political awareness among the people at large.

This probably explains why, in spite of many perverse political incentives embedded in the system, there has been considerable progress in many areas of social development in Bangladesh and the budgetary process portrays, at least in pretence, a ‘benevolent social guardian role’ of the government.

Publication details

published by
Mahmud, W.
IDS Working Paper, issue 162
1 85864 431 3


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