State govt looking to strengthen local bodies: Kerala CM

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File Pic: Manorama

Thrissur: Denying allegations that the LDF government was looking to destabilise the local self-governing institutions, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his government instead was empowering the local bodies. 

“Those who falsely accuse that the state government is not disbursing funds are silent on the fact that Kerala has not been receiving the Central funds to be given to the local bodies,” said the chief minister. 

Pinarayi was interacting with the media during the state government’s Nava Kerala Sadass which started its tour in Thrissur district on Monday.

 “The Central Finance Commission has recommended the grant to Kerala at a lower rate than other states. They sanctioned the grant with several conditions that are suitable for north Indian states and not Kerala,” pointed out the chief minister. 

Pinarayi said that for FY24, the state should have received Rs 1,909 crore for the local self-government bodies. “The state should have received Rs 1,260 crore in rural areas, Rs 281 crore for cities with a population over one million, and Rs 368 crore for cities where the population is lower than a million. After constant pressure from the states, the Centre allocated Rs 252 crore for the rural sector on November 20. 

 “The Central Finance Commission grant is a constitutional right of the states and through it the local self-government bodies. Projects have been stalled due to the non-availability of entitled funds. Only the Finance Commission is empowered under Article 280 of the Constitution to make such conditions (for lan). But the central finance department has unilaterally imposed a new condition. This is totally unconstitutional. Does the opposition have no opinion on that?” asked the chief minister.

“Court did not take action to set aside the Govt. order permitting local bodies’ contribution to Sadas”

Regarding local bodies contributing funds to the Nava Kerala Sadas, the chief minister reiterated that Sadas was an official programme jointly conducted by the state government and the local self-government bodies.

 “The local self-government bodies, which are naturally part of the event, need government approval to contribute towards the expenditure required by the Nava Kerala Sadas. Neither the Panchayat Raj Act nor the Municipality Act mentioned such a programme as Nava Kerala Sadas is an event that has no previous examples. Therefore, the government has given permission for the success of this program which is also undertaken by the local self-government bodies. A municipal council which decided to pay first is understood to have approached the court against it due to the instigation of the opposition leader. It is to be noted that the court did not take any action to set aside that order,” the chief minister pointed out.

 The chief minister reminded that one should not forget that it is the primary responsibility of the local body to spend money on a programme jointly implemented by the government and the local government.

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