Chandigarh, February 6
In a new practice that has not gone down well with most councillors, the Municipal Corporation has neither given the 2023-24 budget estimates agenda to Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC) members nor the House members (councillors) ahead of Tuesday’s meetings.
As per the existing practice, the budget estimate agenda is provided to F&CC members days before being tabled in the panel meeting. After required changes suggested by the members, the estimates are revised. Its updated copy is then sent to all councillors ahead of the House meeting, usually held a few days after the F&CC meeting, for discussion and final approval.
Departure from norm
- As per practice, budget estimates agenda is given to Finance and Contracts Committee members days before it is tabled at panel meet
- After changes, estimates are revised and updated copy is given to councillors ahead of House meet for discussion and final approval
- But for first time, MC has kept budget estimates a ‘secret’; copies will be given at F&CC meet and later at House meet on Tuesday
However for the first time, the corporation has preferred to the keep the budget estimates a “secret”. And, the agenda copies will be given on the spot at the F&CC meeting and then at the House meeting on Tuesday.
Another change is that both meetings will be held the same day, indicating there will be little time for the F&CC members to deliberate and suggest changes. The F&CC meeting is scheduled for 10.30 am, while the House meeting will be held at 2.30 pm.
Interestingly, in a departure from the norm, the civic body had earlier scheduled the House meeting at 10.30 am, prior to the finance panel, say sources. However, following objections from councillors, the MC decided to call the finance panel meeting first, followed by a house meeting at 2.30 pm.
“It is dictatorial attitude of the BJP-ruled MC. Bureaucracy is having a free run. Officers are going as per the will of the BJP. What is there to hide? Why do they want to run away from transparency?” said councillor Damanpreet Singh, AAP’s leader of opposition in the MC House.
F&CC member and Congress councillor Gurpreet Singh Gabi said: “We have not got the agenda. We requested the Mayor to bring the agenda in the F&CC meeting first for discussion. Otherwise, if there is something that is not required in the budget, we will have to defer the House meeting for changes. The budget estimates should have been made public like the earlier practice.”
“When you already know you are going to receive Rs 555 cr as grant-in-aid, what is there to hide? In Parliament, Finance Minister presents the Budget, here no minister or finance secretary is going to do that. It is foolish to hide the budget estimates,” said a ruling BJP’s councillor.
The sources say the Mayor wishes to table and disclose the agenda in the House himself. Mayor Anup Gupta said: “Everywhere like Parliament, Assembly or corporation, the budget agenda is disclosed the same day. So, we have also started the system here so that dignity of the House is maintained.”
F&CC, House meetings convened same day
Both F&CC and House meetings will be held on Tuesday, giving little time for F&CC members to suggest changes. The F&CC meeting is scheduled for 10.30 am, while House meet will be held at 2.30 pm. Earlier, there was a gap of a few days between meetings.
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