As a researcher, I have a working knowledge of public policy. I know for a fact that issues which we face everyday are directly linked to the workings of public policy. Poverty at its most basic level (for instance parents living in the streets giving away their children), or the lack of response to calamities such as the Super Typhoon Yolanda, or the legislators’ insistence of allocating pork barrel into the national budget, or the failure to curb graft and corruption both in and out of government-these can all be traced to the workings of public policy.
As a researcher, I came to understand that no other course has a deeper link to the directions which a nation takes than public policy. And as a researcher, I came to understand that no other course has a better understanding of a nation’s growth and development than public policy. This encouraged my resolve to apply into the PhD Public Policy program of the Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy.
In the course of my application, I intend to specialize in budgetary policy. This will give me a deeper understanding of why a certain sector of society gets much more and another gets very little in the share of government resources, even at the expense of justice and fairness. For example, in the Philippines, government employees get very large bonuses while the government could barely build roads and bridges in the countryside that are crucial in alleviating the plight of small farmers.
My intent is to analyze the politics and policy making process involved in a country’s national budgetary system within the context of a parliamentary government and with its own particular institutional characteristics and leadership processes.
Why? The budget is generally considered the most important piece of legislation adopted each year. It is the main ingredient in the conduct of fiscal policy. It is also the master plan of government around which revolves the central political question ‘who gets what, and how’? It reflects a government’s social and economic policy priorities more than any other document, and translates policies, political commitments, and goals into decisions where funds should be spent and how funds should be collected. It is likewise indicative of ongoing political dynamics, a mechanism by which political coalitions bargain over conflicting goals, make side-payments, and try to push one another to accomplish their objectives.
Likewise, better understanding of the budgetary process of any government would ably contribute to avoiding a budgetary impasse or a fiscal cliff in which conflicting interests of ‘stakeholders’ result to a non-passage of the National Budget law.
MY TENTATIVE RESEARCH STATEMENT
This early, I have already a tentative research statement, subject to changes depending on how it will develop with research advisers. My tentative research statement is as follows:
The main research problem of this study is to determine what factors (or variables) has the greatest impact on a country’s national budget, and how do they affect funding allocation of certain areas of concern.
The research objectives of this study are identified as follows:
- To examine the dynamics of the budgetary process. This will be either an entire country or a particular state or province.
- To determine the priority areas of certain ‘key players’ in the budgetary process. These groups include political parties, lobby groups, or perhaps individual Members of Parliament.
- To propose mechanisms that will generate greater harmony and cooperation among ‘key players’ or ‘stakeholders’ in the budgetary process, with the end-in-view of producing a national budget that favors the real priorities of the country as well as avoid a budgetary impasse or a ‘fiscal cliff.’
- To determine which group or sector dominates in the national budget process, and how to they dominate.
- To pinpoint budgetary reforms which are needed for the growth and development of the country or state or province where the research is conducted.
Overall, this study seeks to contribute to a more systematic understanding of an important policy – the national budget. The policy process of the national budget has been little studied in the past. The importance of this approach has been overlooked unlike the economic and business approaches wherein there are many studies.
RESEARCH LIMITATIONS AND HOW TO ADJUST TO SUCH LIMITATIONS
Given limited time and resources, this study can be limited as follows, upon consultation with the adviser: 1) A particular sector in government, such as Health, Education, Defense, Public Works, Transportation, etc; 2) A particular local government, such as the Ontario Provincial Government, the Saskatchewan Provincial Government, a city or town in Saskatchewan such as Saskatoon, etc; and/or 3) A combination-a particular sector in a particular local government.
CERTAIN KEY CONCEPTS
The key concepts in this study are: 1. National budget; 2. Budgetary laws, policies, and politics; 3. The parliamentary system of government; 4. Stakeholders involved in the national budget.
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