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Q. Budget 2017 and funds to parties: Comment on various budget proposals with reference to electoral funding.
Feb 04, 2017 Related to : GS Paper-2 and 3

Ans :

Introduction-

The funding to political parties has been controversial issue since long time. Recent survey has shown that 69% funds and donations received by political parties come from unknown sources. In this regard the budget 2017 has proposed some important initiatives on important subject of reforming political funding.  

Key proposals –

  • The budget capped anonymous cash donations to political parties at Rs 2,000, one-tenth the current level, in line with a recommendation by the Election Commission.
  • Higher donations (more than 2000) to political parties can be made through cheque or through digital mode. 
  • Also budget proposed to set up electoral bonds, so that donors can buy those bonds and that can be redeemed only in the account of a political party from banks and donate them to the party of their choice.


Analysis-

  • Trashing of unknown contributions to Rs. 2000 from present Rs. 20000 will helps in increasing transparency and accountability in donations received by political parties.
  • But political parties may again misuse the provision by splitting donations under below Rs.2000 to keep anonymity of the donors, by doing so they may again deny citizens the right to know who funds parties.
  • According to some observers setting up of electoral bonds instead of advancing transparency, the bond gives legitimacy to opaque contributions to political parties.
  • Though these initiatives are well intended and in support of citizens right to know who funds parties, but still has many loopholes that political parties may use to maintain secrecy of donor. 


What can be done-?

  • Without knowing the approximate expense of parties one cannot poll expenditures. Hence to reform we need is to get a handle on realistic spending by any party. 
  • Things might work better if the Election Commission scrapped its impractical spending limit and, instead, made it compulsory for each party and candidate to reveal spending at each level, starting from the polling booth. 
  • These numbers should be open to challenge by rivals, the media and watchdog bodies. It will help to contain black money in the elections. 


Conclusion-

The initiatives proposed in union budget with regard to political funding are aimed at increasing the transparency and accountability.  But still there exists many loopholes; hence it can to be black money in elections cannot be contained completely. There is need of comprehensive reforms in overall electoral process.


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