Other ways necessary to curb expenses on poll-campaign
Delhi High Court on July 24, 2018, issuing notices of Union Ministry of Law and Justice and Election Commission to send their comments on a writ requiring great disparity between expenses practically allowed to those contesting on party symbols and for independent candidates. While candidates contesting on party tickets get much more additional expenses done through their sponsoring parties, independents have no such privilege for spending beyond the limit.
It remains bitter fact that all such expense-limits imposed for poll campaigns are never followed in general practice with the majority of candidates filing wrong affidavits with the Election Commission in this regard. Since such nuisance practice of exceeding expense limit is by and large by all contesting candidates, there are very few cases where petitions are filed against such deliberate wrong information given by rival candidates or parties about expenses on poll campaigns. An independent candidate broke all records of such expenses just to exhibit his richness even though he was himself sure to lose an election the state assembly.
Considering all practical aspects, there should not be any expense limit to contest elections. Even the Election Commission can be empowered to collect an election tax of say 10 per cent of the expenses made by any individual, candidate or political party. Steps can be taken to ban election rallies where mainly expenses are made for poll campaigns apart from great disruption of public life and large-scale misuse of government machinery by ruling parties on such rallies. Instead, live TV-debates should be encouraged on lines of those held in the USA.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
Declare data of funds received by different political parties
It refers to the State Bank of India issuing 980 electoral bonds worth Rs 438 crores out of which political parties redeemed just Rs 427 crores in the first three phases of the sale of these bonds, thus resulting in saving of about Rs 10 crores to exchequer with bonds having a limited validity of 15 days. Much-criticised these totally non-transparent bonds are liable to be misused as convenience fees paid to the ruling parties either at the centre or in the states. In case, the central government is unwilling to induce transparency in electoral bonds to hide the identity of contributors to political parties, at least details of political parties getting funds through these electoral bonds must be made public regularly to know whether these bonds are being contributed mainly to ruling parties only.
It is also time to abolish sections 13A, 80GGB and 80GGC of Income Tax Act on contributions received by and made to political parties perhaps to whiten black money. Many registered political parties not having contested any election, get themselves registered with the Election Commission only to get black money of promoters of such non-serious parties whitened because of these undesired provisions of exemptions in the Income-tax Act. After all extra revenue-earning so made will be used for national development and public welfare which is rather more necessary than to provide undue tax relief to our ultra-rich and affording political parties.
Nationwide transport strike hit consumers hard!
Governments inability to end nationwide transport strike comes as a shock. Inflation has shot up to alarming levels as the price of all items of essentials has hit the roof. Business too has come to a standstill with the movement of trade halted which would hit the economy hard as a single day off means a loss of crores to the government. Transport comes under essential services and the government needs to act urgently for an amicable solution so that situation of emergency does not get aggravated in the days to come.
Some of the demands of transporters like costly fuel, octroi issues, toll charges, third-party insurance etc are genuine and experts in the government machinery need to find a solution to these grievances which are pushed for the later date with promises but never addressed. Transport strike is inflationary and hope it comes to an end at the earliest!
Sanitary napkin exemption
In a retrograde step, the union finance minister has announced slashing of GST on more than 100 items. When we assess the impact of the revenue forgone and improved compliance and job creation after one year, every state will benefit. The rate cuts made would increase sales volumes by reduction of prices as the anti-profiteering provisions would necessitate passing on the benefits to consumers. In a move to garner woman voters Sanitary napkins are exempted from taxes. Even though it is a retrograde step, it came at the right time and the no-confidence motion against the government has brought the desired effects. And before 2019 General Elections we can see more changes that will directly benefit the people at all levels. The broad-level reductions could lead to lower tax collections for the next few months but will lead to volume expansion which could more than make up for the reduction especially as we are headed towards the festive season. Let us hope that better council will prevail in solving the GST problem once for all.
Nationwide transport strike will definitely cripple the economy in general and shoot up prices of vegetables and fruits. Even though it is mentioned that the essential commodities will be exempted the state panel is keeping an eye on the situation. Spiralling fuel prices is the major reason for the strike called by the Transport unions on all India basis. To add salt to the wounded toll charges are increasing and that is adding to the prices of the commodities and increasing the woes of housewives. Third-party insurance rates need to be slashed to give some relief for transport operators of the country. Key demands are to be met to clear the stalemate and give the transport operators a lease of life. Extending permit to is another key issue troubling transport companies. In all, we find a mess like situation as transport vehicles go off the roads.
Jayanthy S. Maniam
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)