Home > Budget 2019 > News > Wisdom of crowds turns into policymaking tool

New Delhi: Crowdsourcing seems to be gaining popularity, at least in government circles.

While the Union government will seek public inputs for the second time for Union Budget 2020-21, having identified at least 13 themes for crowdsourcing, Uttarakhand has also decided to follow in the footsteps of the federal government for its annual budget.

While it is unclear to what extent the government will rely on the wisdom of the crowd, the optics of listening to suggestions from the public is an appealing prospect.

“Technology has opened up a new frontier for public engagement on key issues like annual budget, education, healthcare, etc., and that’s good for a government that has got a huge political mandate," said a Delhi-based economist, who did not want to be identified. “Perhaps, the government is looking to plug the shortage of talent via crowdsourcing ideas."

Along with topics for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat, the content of his Independence Day speech and the Union budget, the Centre has now sought public opinion through an “ideas box" to encourage discussion on governance and policymaking and ideas that will “help in building a New India by 2022".

“To make the Union budget-making process participative and inclusive, the ministry of finance… looks forward to hearing from you on your suggestions for the Union budget. You can submit your suggestions either directly in the comments box or attach a PDF document," the Union government has said.

The Centre said citizens can send suggestions on “income tax, farmers, finance, agriculture, health education, environment, water conservation, GST, employment, entrepreneurship, railways, infrastructure, and others".

Suggestions for the Union budget have to be submitted by 20 January and for Uttarakhand by 15 January.

People seem to be demanding a higher exemption on income tax on individuals, arguing that honest taxpayers need to be rewarded.

“We salaried people, we pay tax on time and file IT returns in time for nation-building. However, when it comes to education of our children or medical treatment, we have to pay as decided by the school and hospital. For every purchase of goods and services we have to pay tax," said Sumanth K.S., a participant.

Some people suggested that the basic income tax exemption be raised to 7.5 lakh a year. Lalitha Srinivas Rao of Bengaluru suggested separate tax deductions for children’s education, outside the Section 80-C deductions. “If a family has two children, each child’s education comes to around 1.5 lakh per annum. At this rate how can an individual think of buying goods from the industry? They start saving for their child’s future cost of education and forego the current need of purchasing goods," wrote Rao.

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