09 May 2008
A public finance expert has criticised the Scottish government over changes in the presentation of budget information.
In a submission to the Scottish Parliament finance committee, Professor Arthur Midwinter argues that the revised format has reduced the transparency of the budget documents and 'made rigorous scrutiny more difficult in practice'.
Midwinter, a former budget adviser to the finance committee, is visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh's Institute of Public Sector Accounting Research.
He is a consultant to Labour in the Parliament but says his submission is made in a personal capacity. The committee is carrying out a review of the budget process.
Midwinter refers to gaps and fundamental weaknesses in the budget reporting system, including the lack of an indication of how budgetary allocations have been targeted to meet strategic objectives.
According to the submission, the Parliament endorsed £11bn of finance for uncosted service developments through three budget lines, with scant information on services.