In a jolt to Shiv Sena, the ruling party in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the annual budget for the fiscal year 2017-18 clearly bears the stamp of ‘transparency,’ a quality that has been strongly advocated by its alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, in civic proceedings. With greater emphasis on transparency and efficiency, BMC chief Ajoy Mehta has vowed to simplify civic services further for the benefit of the common man.
“Going by the principle of transparency, we have decided to make a statement on the available cash balances and how they are proposed to be utilised for financing various civic projects,” said Mr Mehta while presenting the Rs 25,141.51-crore budget, which is down by a whopping Rs 11,911 crore as compared to last year. The civic chief attributed the decline to measures taken to control and bring in discipline in expenditure.
“We have asked civic officials to take a realistic view and focus only on targets. The BMC has a liability of Rs 9,900 crore, of which Rs 4,000 crore is only on roads. These liabilities have not been completed for so many years and we want to close them down for good,” said Mr Mehta.
“Money will be spent on only where it is necessary. Civic departments tend to grossly overestimate capital expenditures. This results in large withdrawals from the capital accounts. However, the capacity of these departments to spend these amounts is limited due to which capital expenditure is far less. This results in inflating the budget. We have decided to do away with this,” he added.
A ‘transparent, citizen-friendly budget,’ as touted by Mr Mehta, is based on five principles — conservatism, avoidance of duplication, transparency, accountability and integration with the Development Plan (DP).
For the first time, the budget has been converged with the DP, for which Rs 2,096 crore has been allotted towards the implementation of the plan. Specific provision has been made for land acquisition (Rs 827 crore), new roads (Rs 1,030 crore), road widening (Rs 160 crore), building construction (Rs 47.73 crore) and open space development (Rs 31 crore) for this year. The total funds required for the implementation of the proposed DP are Rs 91,080 crore for a period of 20 years.
City BJP chief Ashish Shelar has lauded the BMC budget, saying it is fulfilling his party’s demand of transparency. “Several measures like cashless transactions, m-governance and software for civic hospitals have been taken to ensure transparency,” he said.