Role of local bodies to be expanded

In the 25th year of decentralisation, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac envisions an expanded role for the local bodies in his Budget.

In addition to the traditional roles of waste management and implementation of various government programmes at the grassroots-level, the local bodies are also being pushed to do more in the production and employment sectors. In a move that could bring cheer to people's representatives, who have been chronically underpaid, their honorarium has been increased by ₹1,000.

Special development clusters of micro and small enterprises will be created in panchayats and municipalities. Each local body is expected to create employment for every five out of 1,000 persons. A special coordination council will be set up at the local body level. To push local bodies to utilise the latest technologies and methods for their projects, half a percent of the developmental funds will be set apart as S.B. Sen Innovation Fund. Special assistance will be given to local self-governments which design the best innovative projects in each developmental sector.

Lauding the local bodies on their performance, Dr. Isaac said ₹1,000 crore would be allocated to local bodies this year. Development funds, maintenance funds and general purpose funds have been enhanced as per recommendations of the State Finance Commission. A total of ₹25,660 crore will be available for local bodies in 2021-22 for expenditure.

There will be no treasury restrictions for local body expenditure. Ahead of the preparation of the next Five Year Plan this year, the local bodies have to prepare a comprehensive overview of the changes that have taken place in their area.

A total of 1.5 lakh more houses will be constructed under the LIFE Mission this year, out of which 60,000 houses are for scheduled categories and fisher families. A welfare fund will be created for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) workers to provide pension and other benefits.

At least three lakh people will additionally be provided with employment under the scheme. The Ayyankali Employment Security Scheme, for which the total outlay is ₹200 crore, will focus more on rural wards in the city limits. Announcing the enhancement of all welfare pensions to ₹1,600, Dr. Isaac said there was a 30% increase in the number of social security pensioners under the LDF's tenure.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 12:00:08 AM |

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