Sunday, August 31, 2008

We pay tax, but why no good roads?

We pay tax, but why no good roads?
Though Crores Collected, Civic Infrastructure Still Bad
Vinay Madhav |TNN

Bangalore: Rajni pays the price twice for bad roads. It’s bad enough for this call centre cab driver to shell out vehicle tax on his four-wheeler but he also ends up spending about Rs 5,000 every month on maintenance on tyres, tubes and suspension, among other problems. He drives on an average about 250 kms all over the city and knows a thing or two about bad roads.
He’s just one of lakhs of Bangaloreans who pay vehicle registration tax and a cess on petroleum products in the hope that the road infrastructure will be improved. But, how much does the government invest in developing the infrastructure? Going by the cratered roads, not much seems to be percolating down to the BBMP for implementation of road-related projects.
The vehicle tax collected in Bangalore during registration of new vehicles in RTO offices was over Rs 1,554 crore (2007-08). The BBMP allocation in its recent budget for road and sewerage works put together is just around Rs 1,100 crore. This includes funds allocated under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JN-NURM) and other Centre-allocated funds.
In 1994, the state government introduced a lifetime tax for two-wheelers, three-wheelers and light motor vehicles (LMVs), like cars. Till then, the government collected vehicle tax on an annual basis. Commercial vehicles like vans, buses and trucks still pay in instalments. The revenue generated through lifetime tax was to be spent on developing infrastructure.
Bangalore contributes the most when it comes to vehicle tax collection in the state. During the past five years, tax collection through vehicle registration has doubled. In 2003-04, the revenue generated through vehicle tax in Bangalore was Rs 776 crore, and has steadily gone up over the years. The transport department aims at collecting over Rs 1,800 crore this year through vehicle tax. From 2003 to 2008, vehicle registration in Bangalore has generated Rs 5,657 crore in the form of tax.
But, the government has been rather tight-fisted when it comes to spending money on improving roads. As per the recent BBMP budget, allocation for road and sewerage infrastructure works for entire Bangalore is Rs 1,100 crore. This includes funds for new flyovers, widening existing roads and improving infrastructure in newly-added areas.
Rs 776 crore
Rs 936 crore
Rs 1,105 crore
Rs 1,286 crore
Rs 1,554 crore
(target) Rs 1,882 crore


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