Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NMMC plans skywalks with elevators in eight months

Thursday 28, February 2008,

Municipal Standing Committee began its special budget meetings on 27 February, 2008. Vitthal More was the first to take the floor. He affirmed the need for availing all the loans from the Central and state governments for achieving the visions of a city of the 21st century. He however added that just as the corporation is committed to provide the best possible civic services to the poor and the needy; it should consider its duty to provide the amenities for the productive segments of the society, the creators of wealth.Referring to the budget projections, he said that the overall budget for 2008-09 is on par with the current years’. Out of the projected Rs 1,200 crores plus expenditure, about Rs 600 crores will come through JNNURM, MMRDA AND other governmental schemes. He also warned the administration not to succumb to the political decision of not increasing the taxes for the next 20 years! That could suggest that the citizens are already taxed heavily.
More felt that there is scope for increasing the revenue from Cess by about Rs 100 crores. Against this, the projected revenue of Rs 225 crores is hardly more than the current is hardly more that the current year’s Rs 209 crores. He said that is was possible to collect Rs 100 crores either by increasing the staff or out sourcing through manpower agencies. He suggested a ratio of one officer, two inspectors and two clerks for every 1,000 assesses for getting the optimum returns. “The department is sorely understaffed leading to leakage of revenue,” he said. Property tax: Here again, the projections are not ambitious, according to More. The projections for the budget year are Rs 109.08 crores against the actual of Rs 88.29 crores during the current year.
“Here again, shortage of staff is eating into the revenue,” he felt. More wanted to project a better image of the civic body by renovating the Tax collection and Ward offices. He wanted commercial rates of taxes to be levied on those who are using residential premises for commercial purposes.
More welcomed the proposal to install water meters in 10,000 more units. This will help avoid wastage, he said.
Referring to the new STPs proposed in the budget, he said it is a good move. However, he was not in favour of going for not in favour of going for new STPs as the present ones have excess capacity.
Sangeeta Sutar called for the constitution of a committee to identify and approve projects that could be undertaken with JNNURM and MMRDA funds. Avinash Lad felt that loans from MMRDA at 8% per annum could turn out to be too costly if the banks start offering cheaper loans. Standing Committee chairman Sandeep Naik informed that NMMC is retaining the option to switch to softer loans in such an eventuality.
Lab also suggested that NMMC should aim to maximize revenue from outdoor advertising like electric poles, hoardings etc. He felt that the projected revenue of Rs 2.05 crores is a flea bite. He pointed out how an advertising agency had demanded Rs 2.5 lakhs for advertising the Chowpatty festival. In another case, a single hoarding was fetching revenue of over Rs 40 lakhs, he pointed out in support of his suggestion. He called for rotation of staff, especially in the Town Planning Department, which will help increase the revenue.
Ms Vijaya Thakur felt that much more can be raised by way of Cess and hawker licenses. She suggested that the target for the former be raised to Rs 75 crore.

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