The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has sought the state election commission’s (SEC) guidance before presenting the annual budget for the financial year 2017-18 in front of the standing committee of corporators. The civic body wrote to the commission last week, seeking their guidance as the presentation of the budget will fall under the election code of conduct. However, the BMC is yet to receive a response.
The BMC’s annual budget is likely make allocations for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) and Shiv Sena’s pet projects — such as the coastal road — as they are ruling parties in the civic body. This is likely to give them an advantage over other parties and this is why the BMC has approached the SEC.
The Shiv Sena had recently opposed the presentation of annual Union budget as elections were slated to be held in five states immediately after it. Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had said the budget could influence voters, which would be unfair to other parties.
The civic administration has stated that the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, makes it mandatory for the budget to be presented before the committee before February 5. As the election code of conduct is likely to be announced this week, civic officials said that writing to the election commission seeking clarity was important.
A senior civic official from the finance department, said, “We have asked them to direct us regarding our budget presentation. Once we receive a reply, we will work according to their directives. Budget preparation is an administrative job, but if the public is influenced or affected by projects mentioned in the budget, then we have to be careful.”
However, the civic body had not written to the election commission before the 2012 elections and thus, the budget estimates were not presented in front of the standing that year, owing to the elections. A senior civic official, requesting anonymity said, “There is an amendment to section 129 (A) of the MMC act that allows us to get revised estimates approved from the commissioner before February 5. We had done this during the 2012 election and the budget was presented to the newly-elected standing committee.”
Meanwhile, the BMC has only managed to spend more than 35 per cent of its annual budget estimate for 2016-17 by December. However, civic officials said more than 50 per cent of the budget will be utilised before the end of this financial year.