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SEC’s strict vigil over candidates’ account

Candidates have been asked to open a separate bank account and maintain details about the expenditure incurred by them while contesting election.

With the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) election just round the corner the State Election Commission (SEC) and Income Tax department are planning to keep a close watch on the money spent by candidates during polls. After the Modi government had announced the demonetisation campaign the Income Tax has been keeping close vigil on bank deposits and also has asked banks to report about suspicious transactions. Since huge cash is being distributed during polls the SEC and Income Tax department are taking steps to curb the flow of black money.

Often there have been complaints about candidates luring people by offering money and asking them to vote for their party. Every candidate is permitted to spend up to Rs 5 lakh which excludes party expenses. Moreover, they have been instructed to open a separate bank account and maintain details about the expenditure incurred by them while contesting election. The polling for 227 wards in Mumbai will be conducted in a single phase on February 21 and the results will be declared on February 23

BD Bishnoi, Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mumbai reportedly confirmed that a separate team of IT officials has been formed to keep a tab on spendings of candidates and the party workers in their respective BMC wards.

Mumbaikars have welcomed the initiative taken by the State Election Commission and Income Tax department to monitor the money spent by candidates during the civic body polls.

“As we know that candidates try to solicit votes by offering cash to voters such type of initiative will check the flow of money during election. People are already fed up of rising corruption in the country and they want development,” said Ramesh Adne, a Borivali resident.

“The government may have taken the right step to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes to curb black money and corruption. However we also need more reforms in election and candidates should be made accountable. We need to follow transparency in governance,” said Rohit Vyas an accountant working with a financial firm in Andheri.

“The State Election Commission is also coordinating with the I-T department on the surveillance task. It would finalise the size of I-T team required in Mumbai and in other regions of Maharashtra,” said J S Saharia, State Election Commissioner.

Banks have been asked to report about any suspicious transactions pertaining to lumpsum money being debited or credited within a short span of time. Such type of information must be reported to Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), SEC, Income Tax department, Superintendent of Police and District Collector. Political parties and candidates will have to file a consolidated banking transaction report to the poll officials within a month after election.

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