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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

MC yet to pass annual budget

Shaheen P Parshad, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, March 09, 2014
First Published: 22:42 IST(9/3/2014) | Last Updated: 22:43 IST(9/3/2014)

Even as the current financial year drawing to a close on March 31, the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) is yet to hold its budget meeting, which is likely to hamper the course of major development projects.

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With the model code of conduct in force, the civic body will not be able to take up any development project; hence, it will be passing the budget only to make financial arrangements for regular expenditures.

If MC officials are to be believed, none of the municipal body in Punjab has held their budget meeting so far, as they are yet to receive directions from the local bodies ministry.

Even as the Amritsar civic body remains cash strapped, officials claimed that it had sufficient resources to meet the regular expenses such as salaries, fuel bills and miscellaneous expenditures.

"When the Centre held its Budget Session in advance, the MC should also have followed the suit and passed the budget for the development of the city and regular expenditures," said Rajkanwal Preet Pal Singh Lucky, Congress councillor and leader of the Opposition in the House.

He added that with the model code of conduct in force, major development projects, especially the solid waste management project, were likely to suffer. "No negotiation could be held in this regard, as the meeting of the Finance and Contract Committee (FNCC) was held on February 26, while the project was sanctioned later by the government," he said.

According to Lucky, the contractors are not coming forward to fill tenders for various development works, as a number of them have been waiting for a loan amounting Rs. 50 crore from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (0HUDCO) for the clearance of their previous payments.

"Now, the MC can only convene the budget meeting to propose a budget for regular expenses, as any discussions on developmental projects would amount to violation of the model code of conduct," Lucky added.

Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora said the MC had not received any guidelines from the local bodies ministry about holding the budget meeting, so far. "The MC can hold the budget meeting only after receiving the guidelines. Moreover, there is no need to hold a budget meeting, as the MC has sufficient resources to meet regular expenditures," he said.

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