NEW DELHI: Claiming that the Aam Aadmi Party is running an honest government in the city, Vice-Chairperson of Dialogue and Development Commission Jasmine Shah said the Delhi government has enough funds for the welfare of the people.
Speaking to IANS, Shah said the government is able to provide free electricity or water and had proposed for free public transport for women even without adding any new taxes as it is honest.
On being asked how the funding is being done, he said Delhi's budget has been doubled in the last five years.
"It has gone up from Rs 31,000 crore to Rs 60,000 crore. There has been a doubling of budget. This shows the honesty with which the funds have been managed," Shah said.
He explained that if one is running an honest government, they will have a lot of public funding at their disposal.
"The government will also fund free travel for women in public transport from the budgetary provisions."
He said the Aam Aadmi Party has not introduced any new tax.
"We have, on the other hand, reduced certain tax rates. We believe that taxation should sit very lightly in the lives of the people. Then more and more people will comply. If the tax rates are high, people will avoid paying taxes."
Also, he added that the AAP government has ended the raid raj completely. Explaining this, he said, raid raj is when people show up at a small or large businessman's door and "end up doing settlements".
"When settlements are done, the intermediate people make money, while nothing reaches to the government. The state bleeds out of revenues. We stopped the raid raj and a lot of pro-business measures were done to ensure the businessmen are not harassed."
This, he said, has increased the confidence of the business community in the government.
"At a time when national GDP is declining, our (Delhi's) GDP is growing at 8.1 per cent."
He also said that the Delhi government will pay for the free travel for women in Delhi Metro without putting the burden on the Delhi Metro.
"There will be no burden on Metro. Also, the metro has said that this will increase its revenue as the ridership will increase. I am hoping for a positive impact of the same," Shah said.
When asked if this will increase burden on the government, he said the government has done all the home work and the decision was taken only after the assessment.
While the government has decided to make DTC and Cluster buses free for women from October 29, the date for free metro ride is yet to be finalised.
"Metro is still accessing the arrangements they have to make. Delhi government was asked what is needed for the implementation but Metro is yet to revert."
On being asked why such a step was needed, he said the government wanted that more and more women should opt for public transport as it is the safest.
"Many incidents happened due to unsafe mode of transport. Women are also forced to walk for longer distance because they cannot afford private transport and sometimes even the public transport."
Shah said the step will also help in women empowerment as experts say that transport plays a very important role in women's education and job opportunities.
"Data says of all the entire work force in Delhi, only 11 per cent are women. That is a very shameful record. We have chosen to do something about it. This is an experiment. We will see what will is the result. We will study the impact."
Shah took over as the Vice Chairperson of Dialogue and Development Commission in November 2018.
Speaking on the Odd-Even scheme, to be implemented between November 4 and 15, he said this will prove to be an important step in controlling the local cause of pollution.
"We are able to reduce pollution by 25 per cent, that is true. But that doesn't mean we are below the safety level as per the World Health Organisation (WHO). We are still in the unsafe zone. Also, the reason this period between November 4 to 15 was chosen is to manage the peak time of pollution.
"We know what is going to happen after Diwali and after the stubble burning in neighbouring states. There has been a pattern from past few years, especially to deal with a factor which is lying outside our limits."
He said the Delhi government can't do much about crop burning outside the city.
"We can and will take measures within our scope and we have a strong faith and also data which says that Odd-Even does help in reduction of air pollution. It reduces congestion as a lot of cars are off the roads."
On being asked why the government has decided to implement it this year, he said it is only an emergency measure.
"Odd-Even is only an emergency measure. It cannot be a long term policy measure. We never advocated it as a long term solution. Everywhere in the world where it was adopted for the long term, it has been a failure."
He said if it is implemented for long term, people will go and buy two cars and now they have two cars instead of one -- one for odd days and one for even days.
"It will be a failure if Odd-Even becomes a permanent measure. Thinking all these, the government has decided to bring it back for a short span of time again."
He also said that the government cannot announce and implement in days.
"This needs planning and entire government machinery has to gear up for that. More than 2,000 buses will be pressed into service this time. Metros will run additional trips, civil defence volunteers will be deployed on the ground," Shah said.
He said the government will hire private bus operators on per kilometre rate for private CNG buses to be deployed on public bus route. Many operators have already signed up for the same, he added.
Shah said the scheme requires a lot of preparations." It is not that this can be implemented over night. If implementing this was easy, every other government would have done this."