Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pay-and-park may be confined to commercial areas

Pay-and-park may be confined to commercial areas

Afshan Yasmeen

Poor may be exempted from many taxes

# Plan to hike property tax not likely to be okayed
# R. Ashok says budget would be modified

BANGALORE: In what could bring relief to many Bangaloreans, the State Government is likely to limit the pay-and-park scheme only to central commercial areas such as Mahatma Gandhi Road, Brigade Road and Commercial Street.

Paid parking will not apply to residential areas, including Jayanagar and Malleswaram, sources in the Housing and Urban Development Department said.

The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) budget had proposed the reintroduction of paid parking on selected roads across the city.

The Government is also likely to reject several other proposals in the budget that would have resulted in citizens paying more taxes, surcharges and fees for various services.

This is because the Government does not want any anti-people measures to be introduced this year as civic polls are likely to be held in the next few months.

While the proposal to collect user fee in corporation hospitals will be exempted for "below poverty line" families, the plan to hike property tax and trade licence fee is not likely to be okayed, the sources said.

Admitting that the Government wanted the civic body to go slow on reintroducing the "pay-and-park" scheme, Health and Family Welfare Minister R. Ashok, who is also in charge of city development, told The Hindu on Monday that he would discuss the matter with Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy shortly. The BBMP budget was forwarded to the Government for approval last week.

"My party (Bharatiya Janata Party) was responsible for getting the pay-and-park scheme scrapped in 2005 because of several irregularities in its implementation and hardship to the common man. Basically, I am against the reintroduction of the scheme. But there are some exceptions and it can be done only in areas such as Mahatma Gandhi Road and Brigade Road," Mr. Ashok said.

The Minister said that the budget would be modified before it was returned to the BBMP.

"We do not want anything that will affect the common man. After a uniform taxation system is evolved for the old and new areas, I will ensure that owners of small sites are not put to hardship. The slabs for trade licence fee will also be reworked," he said.

This is not the first time that the budget will be modified.

Last year, the Government slashed the Mayor's discretionary funds by Rs. 15 crore and withdrew the grant of Rs. 5 crore to the Deputy Mayor, allocated for taking up emergency works.

Two years ago, the Government reduced the money that corporators can spend on works in their wards from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 62 lakh.


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