New Delhi, Mar 8 (UNI) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today that simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies will drastically reduce the election expenditures and will bring the quality of governance both at Centre and states. During a Conversation on “Towards a New Polity: Campaign Finance Reform in India” organized by Dr Syama Prasad Mukherjee Research Foundation, Finance Minister said that it will save the money, resources and time which may be used for quality works in the governance. Mr Jaitley said that due to election almost every year, governments face code of conducts issued by the Election Commission and face difficulties in implementing the policies and making new announcements. Mr Jaitley said that due to election every now and then, the debate among political parties and leaders also get affected. He said, “If elections for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies happen together, then every government will get full five year in which the level of debate among political class and bureaucracy will go up.” “But it requires changes in the laws and consensus among the political parties. Once it is done, it will help a lot in improving governance,” he said. On the issue related to political funding he said, “His government has proposed the best way of in the form of electoral bonds. On suggestion from Election Commission, limit of cash donation has also been reduced to only Rs 2000 per person.” On state funding for elections, he said, “I see some issues with the state funding as it may not go well among the citizen. There is also the question of other expenses of the political parties which may not be addressed in the state funding.” On the question of corruption in the political funding, Finance Ministrer said that GST and other reforms brought in by his government will make cash generation tough for donors which may result in bringing the elimination of corruption in the political funding.. He stressed the need for going to public for donations in small amounts in large number and said that political parties must use the digital and social platforms for it. It will help a lot in making the political funding corruption free to a large extent. He admitted that on the issue of political funding options, BJP and Congress had hardly any difference of opinion in the past. But the problem lied with the lefty parties and some regional parties only. Taking a dig at Delhi Chief Minister without taking his name over the expenditure on advertisement from government exchequer, Mr Jaitley said that it is not good to make huge expenses of public money.
(This Report was published in United News of India on 8th march 2017)