Elected representatives may not be able to use their discretionary grants from December 7 with the city going to polls in February 2017. The much-anticipated Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections are scheduled to be held in February 2017.
According to a circular issued by the State Election Commission (SEC), elected representatives are forbidden from making use of the grants in the last three months of the body’s tenure. This is to avoid incumbents from luring voters during their campaign, the circular explains.
The tenure of the current body governing BMC ends on March 8, civic officials said.
While the date has not been clarified yet, civic officials estimate it to be December 7. A senior civic official said, “The circular clearly states that the grant cannot be utilised from the day the elections are announced or three months prior to the end of the body’s tenure. So we are estimating it to be from December 7, unless the elections are declared earlier.”
A discretionary grant is the fund made available to the elected representative through the government body’s budget. The grant differs as per the civic body’s or the government’s budget.
In the BMC, the country’s richest civic body, every corporator gets Rs60 lakhs at the beginning of the financial year. This fund is meant to be utilised for local development work as per the proposals mooted by the corporator himself. There are 227 corporators for the same number of electoral wards in Mumbai.
The SEC order refers to a Supreme Court (SC) ruling which states that elected representatives make use of the grants at the eleventh hour, thereby, influencing voters.
The SC ruling states, “It should be understood that the energy to do public good should be used not on the eve of elections but much earlier…Payments from discretionary grants on the eve of elections should be avoided.”
Corporators said that they were prepared to make use of the funds in an appropriate schedule knowing that the city will be going to polls in 2017.
Asif Zakaria, a corporator from the Bandra (West) ward said, “I have just a couple of lakhs left in the grant which I will most likely use for getting dustbins in the ward. If corporators have been pro-active, then there should not be a lapse in the grants awarded.”