IMPRI Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted an interactive panel discussion on the topic “Local Governance and Union Budget 2023-24” on 6 February 2023 under the IMPRI 3rd Annual Series of Thematic Deliberations and Analysis of Union Budget 2023-24, as part of the series #LocalGovernance. The discussion was chaired and moderated by Shri Tikender Singh Panwar, who is a Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla and a Senior Fellow at IMPRI.
The eminent panellists included Dr Joy Elamon, who is the Director-General at Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), Thrissur; Dr Purnima Chauhan, who is a retired IAS officer and retired Secretary (Retd.), Government of Himachal Pradesh; Mr Srinivas Alavilli, who is a Renowned Urban Expert; Dr Jawed Alam Khan, who is the Thematic Lead – Fiscal Decentralisation at the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi; and Mr Sameer Unhale, who is an Urban Practitioner and Expert, and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi.
The session was inaugurated by Ms Aanchal Karnani, a researcher at IMPRI, by welcoming and giving a brief introduction to the chair and panellists of the discussion. The discussion was started by Shri Tikender Singh Panwar, who briefly discussed the union budget’s significance for the Indian economy and the main objectives the current administration had for its term. Dr Purnima Chauhan emphasised the necessity to evaluate urban-focused programmes and programmes created for urban regions and to focus these programmes on the factors that contribute to urban growth. She was astounded to learn that the PMAY reduces urban housing by 13% while giving rural areas a 13% rise.
She stated that our nation requires tailored capacity development programs based on the demands and available resources, as well as training programs for elected officials. Dr Joy noted that it is important to think about our goals, particularly in the context of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Dr Purnima and Dr Joy both lamented the absence of institutions to help urban municipal administrations. Dr Joy also expressed his disappointment at the lack of an urban employment guarantee program given the current wave of widespread job cuts.
Mr Sameer Unhale added that the coming ten years will define the Indian generation and be very important for India. In order to eliminate any internal delays, frictions, and overlaps, he asked all three tiers of government as well as other organizations, to work together more effectively and reform their methodologies. Urban India between 2030 and 2040 will be considerably different from what it was between 1980 and 2020, according to Mr Sameer, who concluded by stating that the federal budget might be a very useful tool to improve readiness.
Dr Jawed requested that the state governments view the local governments as partners rather than as employees. He believes that change is necessary for further development and that the finances are not really in line with the necessity. Given the issues with unemployment, he anticipated that the National Rural Livelihoods Mission and the National Urban Livelihoods Mission will receive more attention in the budget. Dr Jawed said in his closing remarks that the Panchayati Raj should have been the nodal ministry for promoting the localization of SDGs.
Mr Srinivas Alavili began his remarks by noting the necessity to change the governance structure for cities to work more effectively as well as the laws governing cities to provide mayors and councillors more power. This may facilitate the ULBs becoming a city government. He also stated that many cities do not have elected councils, using Bengaluru as an example. The session concluded with closing remarks by Shri Tikender Singh Panwar, who thanked and praised the team at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute for hosting a successful panel discussion and for ensuring the smooth functioning of the event.