No big projects in PMC draft budget; tax hike proposed

Mahesh Pathak

Focus will be on completing pending projects like Metro & equitable water distribution: Pathak

Terming it a "realistic" budget, Pune Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak on Tuesday tabled Rs 3,605.02-crore budget estimates for 2013-14 Rs 314.36 crore more than that in 2012-13 hoping to get a green signal for a hike in property tax and water charges. The draft budget has nothing to offer in terms of mega development projects in the coming financial year. An allocation of Rs 1,271.93 crore has been made towards capital expenditure.

The PMC administration has prepared the draft budget by retaining octroi collection the largest source of revenue for the civic body as the major contributor even as the state government is all set to replace it with local body tax (LBT) from April.

During a presentation made before the standing committee meeting on Tuesday, Pathak said a tax hike was necessary to generate sufficient revenue for the civic body to carry out development work. "The replacement of octroi with LBT is likely to affect the revenue collection. Therefore, the elected representatives should positively consider the proposed hike in property tax and water charges," he said, adding that the PMC would make all efforts to ensure effective implementation of LBT and collect as much revenue as possible. PMC has proposed eight per cent hike in the property tax.

The administration has already started preparation for implementation of LBT and is collecting data of traders registered under VAT, Shop Act and Customs Act. Pathak said the training of civic staff for implementing LBT would also begin soon.

However, the civic body is already struggling to implement the 2012-13 budget due to less revenue collection compared to the set target. By the end of December, the civic administration could collect Rs 2,114.10 crore as against the target of Rs 3,633.02 crore. "We cannot estimate the actual revenue collection by the end of the current fiscal but we would make all efforts to achieve the set target," Pathak said.

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