Violation Of Financial Propriety - Eastern Mirror
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Editorial

Violation of Financial Propriety

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 31, 2024 11:43 pm

Reckless spending of public money goes against the very ideals of good governance as it affects the financial health of the nation. But announcing ‘freebies’ to woo the electorate has become regular practice over the years in India. It is in clear violation of  the country’s financial propriety standards which dictates that expenditure from the state exchequer should not be aimed at benefiting a particular person or a minuscule section violating legal provisions. Quite ironically financial propriety standards have been breached by several governments, taking advantage of the thin line between welfare programmes and ‘freebies’. For instance, in its recently released draft manifesto the Congress has promised 25 guarantees, some of which are unrealistic. Implementing those guarantees will certainly make a significant dent in the financial structure of the country. Worried over the rampant misuse of ‘freebies’ to impress voters, the Supreme Court has listed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which challenges the practice of political parties promising freebies during elections. It has suggested that a committee should be formed to dispassionately look into the issue and to recommend remedial measures.The apex court is also of the opinion that the Election Commission (EC) should keep a strong vigil on such violations in its effort to ensure free and fair elections.

Before delving further into this issue, the difference between welfare programmes and ‘freebies’ should be noted. While welfare schemes are meant to ensure social parity, eradication of imbalances in society, ‘freebies’ are strictly meant to influence the voters’ choice towards a particular party. At the same time, welfare schemes have necessary budgetary sanctions and come to an end after achieving the goals, whereas ‘freebies’ have no such sanction or timeframe. For example, the announcement of free power and INR 1000 to every adult woman in Punjab by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) has put an annual burden of INR 20 thousand crore on the state’s exchequer. Moreover, welfare measures are primarily meant for the marginalised sections of society, while ‘freebies’ are meant to appease the society in general. The Congress for instance could have promised a social safety net for workers in the unorganised sector, instead of promising INR 6000 per month assistance to the country’s poorest households. Apart from putting extra financial burden, such schemes are prone to leakages which is evident from a similar ongoing scheme in West Bengal. The so-called flagship programme meant to provide INR 1000 to needy women living in the state, is largely being misused as many women belonging to affluent families have enrolled their names in the beneficiaries list by using their connections. It is evident that freebie culture puts significant burden on the public exchequer, and thus there is urgent need for a law preventing political parties from announcing freebies solely to brighten their electoral fortunes.

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Mar 31, 2024 11:43:14 pm
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