Corporators seek slice of civic funds

A strange demand has come from PMC corporators. They want a slice of funds from money allocated for civic departments to be diverted for works in their own wards.

The demand at an informal meeting of the standing committee held recently to review the budget implementation, however, took the backseat after the members were informed by the civic administration of a likely 22-25 per cent revenue shortfall this fiscal.

"The standing committee members demanded a uniform cut in allocations or each civic department for using it for civic work in their respective electoral areas," said a civic officer.

The municipal commissioner and heads of civic departments expressed shock. "We have never heard of such a demand and were unable to react. In response to the demand, the civic chief informed them about the current status of budget implementation," he said.

Detailed information on revenue collection so far and expected collection by the end of the financial year was presented to the members which made them realise the situation, a civic officer said adding, "The PMC's Rs 3,633-crore budget is set to face a 25 per cent shortfall with the civic administration speculating lower revenue collection than projected in the annual budget for 2012-13."

The corporators had already made a provision of at least Rs 4-5 crore for civic works in their electoral panel. They normally use it to please voters by spending it on benches, roads in lanes, pavements, jogging tracks, community halls and beautification.

"We have been told revenue collection will fall short by at least Rs 800 crore and it is likely to impact development work proposed by the PMC," said Baburao Chandere, chairman of the standing committee.

Committee members had felt that the civic administration is unable to spend the complete allocation and therefore, funds could be diverted for works in their electoral panel.

As per the budget the maximum revenue of Rs 1,457 crore is expected from octroi followed by Rs 600 crore from property tax, Rs 507 crore from building permission and the rest from loans, state government funds and JNNURM funds. However, the civic departments conveyed that the expected revenue collection will be lower than this, he added.

Based on the first seven months' trend, the PMC administration expects a Rs 200 shortfall in octroi and Rs 100 crore less than the revenue projection from building permission, owing to slowdown in the real estate industry. The elected representatives did not allow any increase in property tax which will also be reflected in the collection. Also, doubts have been raised on the proposal for raising a Rs 200 crore loan, as well as fund from government grants.

Corporator Vijaya Wadkar said there are instances of contractors completing civic projects at less than the budget allocated for it. "The diversion of the balance can help corporators complete civic work in their panels," she said.

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