Anomalies have surfaced in the estimates of proposals in the Corporation budget. The civic body admitted that it was short of funds till last September and it has to pay up at least Rs.24-crore bills to contractors. It could not even pay Rs.29 lakh towards the daily wages of labourers for the past four months. But the opening balance of the Corporation, in the budget presented on Monday, was pegged at a whopping Rs.29 crore.
In the budget discussion, Mayor Tony Chammany and Deputy Mayor B Bhadra would have to offer explanations, not just mathematically but politically too. “The budget is not even on a par with a Municipality budget. The estimates announced are all bogus which will be highlighted in the discussion,” said a source with Congress ‘I’ group.
Moreover, the ‘I’ group is irked by the dependence of the budget on state and Centre-sponsored schemes. “The Corporation has not included any indigenous development project in the budget. Instead, a huge number of projects proposed are sponsored either by the Centre or by the state government. How can the Corporation claim them to be their own. Further, the Centre-funded JNNURM projects would end by March 31, 2014, and Union government has not yet sanctioned phase II projects under it for the city. So what are the projects that the Corporation has to offer Kochiites after March 31,” asked a senior Congress ‘I’ group leader.
Clearly, all is not well within the Congress. The ‘I’ group had already expressed its dissent for being kept out of significant participation in budget discussions. With elections round the corner, the budget discussion may become another platform for the faction to vent its anger against the ruling council.
The opposition too is waiting to corner the ruling council for ‘presenting a lacklustre budget’. ”According to the opposition, the budget has not even addressed the basic demands of the city. “The budget does not offer a solution for basic necessities such as sewage treatment or on slaughterhouses. The estimates of revenue and expenditure presented are far from reality. Though `30 crore has been allocated for roads, the budget was silent about almost all major roads in the city, including Thammanam-Pulleppady, Goshree-Mamangalam or Palluruthy parallel road,” said opposition councillor M Anil Kumar.