Elections over, time for Regional bill, and State Finance Commission

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Urban DevelopmentGovernance

Good riddance. With the local election drama over, it is time to focus on things that will really empower a local government for Bangalore. And they are?

  1. Functional Empowerment : Some sort of Regional Governance Bill (a mix of Kasturi Rangan co's recommendations and Abide's Regional Governance act proposal), and,
  2. Financial Empowerment : Clarity on how and how much of direct and indirect taxes paid by you and me will come back directly to our city!

Relatively speaking, topic #1 is better known of the two. There have been reports recommending local governance reforms for Bengaluru Metropolitan Region:

  • See Kasturirangan Committee report here.
  • And, mention of a Karnataka regional governance act by Abide, here.

What exactly is topic #2? Regional autonomy is fine, but how much can a local government do without much control of its own financial health? Development follows money. Changes to regional governance (functional empowerment) need corresponding changes for financial empowerment as well. What do we have here?

  • Chapter 10 from the Report of 13th Finance Commission. (it found detailed mention in Mr Ramesh Ramanathan's Mint article)
  • What else on Financial empowerment front? Refer to the government's decisions on Administrative Reforms Commission’s 6th Report titled “Local Governance – An Inspiring Journey into the Future”, (link here), and notice the recommendation #9 (The State Finance Commission). Notice point #d (Sl no 28, at the very end of page 4):
SFCs should evolve objective and transparent norms for devolution and distribution of funds. The norms should include area-wise indices for backwardness. State Finance Commissions should link the devolution of funds to the level/quality of civic amenities that the citizens could expect. This could then form the basis of an impact evaluation.

Has Karnataka started towards this or other recommendations made to State Finance Commissions for empowering local governments? No idea at all, as I can't even find a website maintained by Karnataka State Finance Commission.

So bottom-line, lets get down to real business if we can. The soon to be elected local government needs some real empowerment, or else the city will be lost to the confusion between corporators, Abide, B* agencies, Mr Ashok, Mr Katta Naidu, and Mr Yeddy.