Budget passed in Opposition councillors’ absence

LDF members skip meet citing restrictions due to COVID-19 spread

In a move that the Opposition termed “undemocratic”, the Kochi Corporation budget was passed on Wednesday in the absence of all Opposition councillors.

Left Democratic Front (LDF) councillors boycotted the council meeting on Wednesday citing COVID-19-related restrictions on large gatherings.

“The corporation budget was supposed to be discussed on Wednesday, and another council meeting was scheduled for Thursday to get it passed.

“But the budget, which does not have the Opposition’s approval, was passed undemocratically on Wednesday itself, taking advantage of the UDF’s majority,” said V.P. Chandran, LDF Parliamentary party secretary.

Leader of the Opposition K.J. Antony had asked Mayor Soumini Jain to postpone discussion on the budget in the light of the national lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19. “But the request was not heeded, and the meeting was held anyway. People’s representatives themselves cannot violate restrictions on large gatherings. Besides, public transport is also not available,” Mr. Chandran said. The two BJP councillors also did not attend the meeting.

Deputy Mayor K.R. Premakumar, who presented the budget on Monday, said a quorum of one-third of the 74-member council’s strength was enough to hold a council meeting. Since all the 37 UDF councillors were present, the meeting went ahead, and the budget was passed without any changes. The budget had to be passed by March 31 in order to be able to use the civic body’s funds after the current financial year, he added.

After the budget was presented on Monday, Opposition councillors had alleged that it had merely repeated projects mooted over the years, and that little was proposed to augment the corporation’s dwindling finances. Sufficient funds had not been allotted to repair roads or resolve waterlogging issues, they said.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:59:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/budget-passed-in-opposition-councillors-absence/article31167400.ece

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