New Delhi: In a significant step towards state funding of Parliamentary and assembly elections, the Law Ministry has been asked to formulate "concrete proposals" in this regard despite Election Commission's reservations.
  
A Group of Ministers to tackle corruption, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has asked the Law Ministry to formulate "concrete proposals on Constitutional and statutory amendments which are required for introducing reforms relating to state funding of elections," a statement issued by the Ministry of Personnel said here.
  
"The state will pay only the legal expenses which is not the concern as people spend crores in elections," Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said when asked for his reaction to the government move.
  
The issue of state funding of elections has been debated for years but due to a lack of consensus, no decision could be taken.
  
The Law Ministry plans to hold an all-party meeting on electoral reforms in the coming days in which the issue of state funding of elections could also come up.
  
Quraishi said State funding will "not solve the problem of black money" which afflicts the electoral process.   

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi has also supported the idea of state funding of elections.   

Gandhi had said in the Lok Sabha during its Monsoon session that critical issues necessary to stand alongside the Lokpal included government funding of elections and political parties.

"The Group of Ministers also called upon the Ministry of Law to formulate concrete proposals on Constitutional and statutory amendments which are required for introducing reforms relating to state funding of elections," the statement of the Ministry of Personnel said.
  
In an effort to rationalise ceiling of expenses in elections, government had earlier this year enhanced the poll expenditure of candidates to Rs 40 lakh for parliamentary constituencies and Rs 16 lakh for assembly seats.
  
Till recently, the maximum limit for parliamentary constituencies was Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for assembly seats.
  
The GoM at its recent meeting also accepted most of the recommendations of an expert Committee chaired by Ashok Chawla on actions required for enhancing transparency and sustainability in utilisation of natural resources.
  
The Chawla Expert Committee on Allocation of Natural Resources had identified natural resources such as coal, minerals, petroleum, natural gas, spectrum, forests, water and land where the government has a major role to play in articulating the policy framework or otherwise influencing the manner of their allocation.
  
Among the key recommendations of the Committee include standardising the format of minutes for all Standing Linkage Committee (Long-Term) meetings, particularly for meetings where allocation decisions are made; the creation of National Data Repository for petroleum exploration; future telecom licences as unified licences and spectrum de-linked from the licence and improving the predictability and reducing the time taken for clearances.
  
It has recommended a comprehensive national legislation to deal with all water-related issues; inventory of the land available with the Union government and all dealings through competitive and transparent e-auctions.

(Agencies)