It is not a good idea for students to cram just a day before the examination. It is unlikely to help them and goes against the spirit of learning. What is true for students is also true for the government. Yet, year after year, government departments have been doing just that with spending their allocated budget. We analysed the budget numbers from the last decade and found spending in March, the last month of the fiscal year, to be much higher than the average of the previous 11 months.

What aids them is the cash accounting system followed by the government. In this system, money that is not released to a department by 31 March—the last day of the financial year—is not carried forward to the next year. This creates an incentive to swing into action in the last month of the fiscal. This practice puts pressure on the spending capacity of government departments; it could lower the quality of spending, and indicates a lack of planning and discipline. The finance ministry’s stipulation that not more than 33% of a department’s budget should be spent in the last three months of the fiscal year has enforced some discipline. Spending in the last month, however, continues to be higher.

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