BMC budget stalled over hike in councillors' fund

It’s been over three months since the Rs 26,581.02-crore municipal budget was submitted to BMC’s standing committee for clearance. However, speculations are rife that owing to the ongoing dispute over amendments to the councillors’ fund, the committee is yet to give the go-ahead. There are apprehensions that further delay may jeopardise ongoing developmental work in the city.

Though no new projects were announced this year, the civic body would face problems while clearing contractors’ dues, as the funds are yet to be cleared. This might result in contractors delaying work owing to non-payment of dues. It has been learnt that the reason the standing committee hasn’t approved the budget, is because the municipal commissioner is yet to sanction proposals made by councillors, who have demanded a hike in funds at the ward-level.

Inside info
“The issue has been in debate for the past three months. The group leaders had suggested a hike in their funds from Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1 crore as well as a special budget. They proposed Rs 300 crores to be earmarked for this purpose. However, the civic chief brought down the budget to Rs 100 crore. This budget has been prepared well by former municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar. No excess allotments have been made to any project or department,” revealed a senior official from BMC’s accounts department.

A standing committee member, requesting anonymity, said, “There are new councillors in the corporation who have made numerous promises to the citizens before the election. Now it’s time for their fulfilment. A token amount should also be given along with the councillors’ fund. The budget was announced before the elections, but has to be tweaked as per the things we have in mind.”

‘Promises to keep’
BMC’s standing committee chairperson Rahul Shewale said, “New councillors want more funds, which didn’t happen last year. It is true that during elections, promises were made and certain things had been mentioned in the manifestos, which require completion at constituency-level. There are expectations from citizens and they will be fulfilled. But the commissioner is delaying the process, as he doesn’t want to budge, nor hold a discussion for the same.”

Shewale also conceded that developmental work in the city will suffer due to lack of funds. “Developmental projects will be delayed as the tender process for projects will be deferred because the heads of departments don’t have funds. For the saem reason, in case a proposal is cleared, it will neither have the standing committee’s resolution, nor the corporation’s,” Shewale said, adding, “The authority is not interested, and the staff along with the commissioner, are delaying the process. Even if there isn’t any project slated for this year, ongoing projects would be affected, which the authority has seemingly overlooked.”

‘Nothing to worry’
When contacted, BMC’s chief accountant (finance) Ram Dhas said, “There is no rule of clearing the budget in a certain period of time and it may not affect the projects or developmental work in the city. There are no projects with deadline for this year.” Municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte was unavailable for comment.  

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