Residents criticise Delhi Budget for misplaced focus

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New Delhi, Mar 25 (UNI) Residents Welfare Associations in Delhi today termed the Delhi Government's Budget for 2008-09 as "a violation of the spirit of fiscal responsibility as well as nakedly ambitious for votes".

In a severe indictment of the budget, RWA members contended that there was an ''abnormality of expenditure when the Government has barely six months before elections are called.'' ''We were expecting a vote-on account or at the most an interim budget, but clearly, the government is trying to make hay while the sun shines,''said Sanjay Kaul, President, People's Action.

''What we are seeing is an attempt at exploitation of the state treasury in the wake of impending elections, which makes for bad policy and precedent and it will most certainly translate into hollow promises,'' he added.

''The mantra is to spend, spend and spend without analysing the projects, the purpose or the process,''R.C. Kamboj of Rohini Federation of RWAs said.

While the RWAs questioned the spend on transportation for its bias, they felt that the expenditure on the social welfare initiatives announced by the government would only fuel corruption in an election year.

''Each of the sops announced only extends an MLAs influence in his zone as he takes credit for nominating such recipients. This will lead to unprecedented unfairness and corruption,''said Vinay Walia of Lado Sarai RWA.

RWAs said the essential issues that impact Delhiites have not been addressed and no attempt made to rein in inflation.

For example, the real issue of power has not been addressed, they said adding that ''the claim of absolving five lakh odd consumers of old dues is both imprudent and impudent : on the one hand it rewards a crime much against policy and on the other hand it casts a burden on the honest bill payer vide higher tariffs and the honest tax payer to sustain frequent subsidization.'' Members of RWAs across the city expressed surprise on the abnormal spend on Buses.

''Clearly, this is only a procurement policy and has no potential to impact the system which will continue as before. On the other hand with the loss making DTC at its helm, these buses will only push the corporation more into the red, said Naresh Ummat of Naraina Vihar RWA.

RWAs criticised the Budget for ignoring the critically important sector of health facilities.

''It seems that the Delhi Government thinks a shiny new low-floor bus is a more important indicator of a state's health than it's hospitals,'' said Mr Kaul.

The organisations were also deeply angered at the attention provided in the Budget towards the 2010 Commonwealth games.

''For something that will be on for 11 days and then become a cash cow for bureaucrats and politicians the abnormal allocation towards stadia upgradation etc. is a serious case of financial irregularity. All these facilities which are being created in the names of infrastructure are only specific to sport and an 11-day event after which all this money will go to seed, just like the Asiad experience,'' said Atul Goyal of Karol Bagh RWA.

Residents are also angered at the abnormal emphasis on sops, claiming that each of the disbursals under different heads, be it Aam Aadmi Bima Yojna, old age and widow's pension, girl child financial assistance, uniform subsidy, is clearly indicatory of unchecked and unmonitorable doles at the cost of tax payer's money.

Overall, residents have termed the Budget a huge opportunity lost which could have consolidated ongoing projects and laid out mechanisms for better fiscal control and counter inflationary measures.

UNI AR VD RS1811

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