Saturday, November 07, 2009

Levy shortfall pauperises BBMP

Levy shortfall pauperises BBMP

Organised tax collection will bail out civic body, say palike officials

Srikanth Hunasavadi. Bangalore



The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) facing financial crisis is no longer a news. The civic body has been facing this problem each year as it has no other major source of income other than property tax.
This year, however, the property tax collected has also been low. The BBMP had set a target of Rs1,000 crore to be collected as property tax for the year 2008-09. However, it has collected only Rs770 crore. And, all the money so collected has been spent on administrative works.
A senior BBMP official said now that daily tax collection has been more organised, funds would be set aside to pay the salaries of the employees. He added, "The BBMP gives out advertisements regularly mentioning the last day of paying property tax. But people do not seem to be showing any interest. The BBMP has also issued notices to those who are yet to pay the taxes, but the response from the property owners is also very poor."
Apart from property tax, BBMP's income generation comes from its buildings, markets and advertisements. However, the annual income from these sources is not more than Rs200 crore.
BBMP officials said that the civic body has no problem with executing projects under the JNNURM scheme as the funds are directly sanctioned by the central government. They said that while all development works under the state budget banner are being taken up, the state has only released Rs300 crore until now, as against the budgetary allocation of Rs1,500 crore.
They squarely hold the previous Palike commissioner S Subramanya responsible for the current state of affairs. "The last Palike budget had allocated Rs6 crore for each ward, with some fund set aside for any special work. Only the commissioner has the right to allocate extra money from this fund. The previous commissioner, S Subramanya, in his last few days in office here, approved more than Rs40 crore for several additional works, and project engineers have also withdrawn all the money, leaving the Palike bereft of funds," sources said.
Official sources revealed that the BBMP is now drawing overdraft to fund any emergencies. "In simple words, there is not even a single paisa in the Palike's accounts. Hence, when employees ask for their salaries, the finance department has nothing to say other than there are no funds to pay the staff and that they need to wait for a few more days," a Palike official said.
The BBMP has taken loans from various other sources to fund the Rs22,000 crore Bangalore Vision project. Sources said that the Palike has no funds to start new developmental work.

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