The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has recommended the introduction of a “democracy cess” for funding political activity and elections.

A report of the CII's task force on electoral reforms said a cess at the rate of 0.2 per cent of the income tax payable be levied on all IT payers including corporates, traders, individuals, institutions, organisations, trusts and societies, which could be used for funding elections.

“The democracy cess amount is to be paid by cheque directly by the IT payer to any one or more Election Commission-recognised political party of the IT payer's choice,” the report said. It added that there is a need to recognise that the deficiencies in the funding system for political activities are leading to corruption, inflow of black money and undesirable economic activity.

The report was released at a session on “good governance” in the annual general meeting of the CII. Talking at the session, the Chief Election Commissioner, Mr S.Y. Quraishi, said the increase in the voters' turnout in recent elections proved that efforts to ensure free and fair elections have paid off. “Voter apathy continues to worry us,” he added.

The Chief Vigilance Commissioner, Mr Pradeep Kumar, said there is a need to amend the Anti Corruption Act so that the bribe-givers would also get the same legal treatment as bribe-takers. “For the first time in the country's history a Cabinet Minister, a Secretary and top corporate leaders are put behind bars. The law is being applied equally and uniformly,” Mr Kumar said.

The CII task force's report also said that there should be enforcement of the disclosure of the criminal antecedents of candidates. It also recommended that “serious candidates” should be encouraged in the election process. The report said the expenditure limit for each Parliamentary constituency should be raised to Rs 5 crore for preventing under-reporting and other malpractices.

jigeesh.am@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 17, 2012)
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