Publication: “The Puzzle of Unspent Funds”

This special issue edited by our project members Deval Desai, Sruthi Herbert and Christine Lutringer explores a matter of critical policy relevance and political importance: the unuse or underuse of public funds, and more specifically of special purpose social funds. The contributions ask: why are there unspent social purpose funds, what do they tell us about the structures of the administrative state, and what can be done to remedy the situation?

The eight chapters, which include contributions by project members Tanushree Kaushal, Luciano Monti and Anna Rita Ceddia, span across two different contexts : India and Italy. These radically different contexts also present valuable points of comparison. The analyzed funds diverge in terms of their institutional design, type of benefits and eligibility of beneficiaries. At the same time, they sit within decentralized democratic frameworks and fragmented and multilevel governance. Juxtaposing the cases, the papers reveal key processes related to fiscal, administrative and policy practices that cause underspending. The papers provide an innovative vantage point to analyze institutional design and reforms in multilevel governance contexts; administrative and bureaucratic state practices; modalities of state-society engagement; and mechanisms to increase democratic accountability.

Desai, D., S. Herbert and C. Lutringer (eds) (2022) The Puzzle of Unspent Funds. Political and Policy Implications of Fiscal Underspending, International Development Policy / Revue internationale de politique de développement, 14.1 (Geneva: Graduate Institute Publications). DOI: 10.4000/poldev.5048

  • Deval Desai, Sruthi Herbert and Christine Lutringer: Introduction. Critical Issues Emerging from the Study of Unspent Funds
  • G. K. Karanth: Managing Unspent Funds when Money is Scarce: Karnataka State Construction and Other Workers Welfare Board (kcowwb)
  • Lipin Ram: Funds Spent: The Lessons and Challenges of Kerala’s Exceptional Experience
  • Tanushree Kaushal: The Aestheticisation of Governance in India: The Appeal of Urban Aesthetics in Microfinance
  • Himanshu Upadhyaya: Registration, Expenditure and Audit Trends: A Technical Commentary on the Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board
  • Christine Lutringer: The Puzzle of ‘Unspent’ Funds in Italy’s European Social Fund
  • Luciano Monti: The Italian Puzzle of the European Youth Guarantee
  • Anna Rita Ceddia: The Pivotal Role of Mid-level Implementation Bodies in Italy’s Cohesion Policy