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LSG bodies need more autonomy: Expert

Posted on Nov 19, 09:39PM | UNI

Financial decentralisation alone is not the panacea for effective grassroots democracy in Kerala and it is essential to safeguard the autonomy of the Local-Self Government bodies while strengthening the mechanisms to ensure accountability, Santhigiri Research Foundation (SRF) Vice-Chairman Dr K Narayanan Nair said today.

The recent decision by the Kerala Government to dissolve the expert committees for the evaluation and sanctioning of projects of the local bodies had hampered the planning process for the current year, he said, while speaking at the two-day National Seminar on 'Democratic Decentralisation in Kerala: Prospects and Challenges' organised by the SRI here.

Simplification of procedures should not be at the cost of expertise and quality, he added.

Local Self-Government (LSG) bodies in Kerala were having enough funds from the State as well as Central sources, he said adding what was needed to ensure effective decentralisation were autonomy, accountability, transparency and people's participation.

Dr Nair said the autonomous functioning of LSG bodies in the State was threatened by the political and administrative leadership which was not willing to accept these as units of local government rather than mere institutions.

In this context, he cited the fact that despite nearly 17 institutions being transferred to the LSG bodies from the state departments, the control over their officials was vested with the State Government and not the local bodies.

Also the transfer of officials to local bodies had not taken place as expected, impacting the availability of trained and qualified personnel. Stating that guidelines governing the centrally sponsored schemes lacked flexibility, he said.