Bikky Khosla | 23 Aug, 2022
this month, the Supreme Court of India recommended to constitute an expert
committee to brainstorm on the issue of election ‘freebies’. The committee will
comprise representatives of Union and State governments, RBI, Finance
Commission, and NITI Aayog, etc. The court noted that a legislation banning
freebies is not advisable, but there should a balance between welfare measures
and loss to the public exchequer.
has come to the fore recently with a PIL seeking action against
political parties for promising or distributing irrational doles during
election campaigns. While the Modi government came out in support of the PIL,
AAP has moved the SC opposing it, adding that free-water, electricity and
transport are essential provisions in an unequal society. The Chief Economic
Adviser to the West Bengal government even alleged that the NDA government is
the biggest giver of freebies for political leverage.
‘freebies’ usually refers to something doled out to the population that does
not support production and productivity in medium to long term. Not all such
policy interventions – like free electricity or farm loan waiver – can directly
be termed as freebies, considering rising inequality in our country, but some
other kinds of expenditure – like on distributing laptops, smartphones, cycles,
TV sets and so on – are, no doubt, done with elections in mind and therefore
should be restricted.
to a recent RBI report titled ‘State Finances: A Risk Analysis’, from 2014
onwards –despite more resources given – allocation by Indian states to social
sectors and health and education has been declining. Also, overall, India’s
welfare spending is very low. On the other hand, the report adds, “expenditure
on freebies range from 0.1 - 2.7 percent of GSDP for different states”. This
trend needs to stop..
I invite your opinions.