The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) is planning to conduct a study on the benefits of deploying its own employees at check-posts and collecting taxes considering the rising number of complaints about excess charges collected by contractors plus the controversies surrounding the annual octroi and toll tax contracts.
Octroi and toll tax contracts are the biggest revenue sources for the SCB, and the idea to conduct a study came from its president, Sunil S. Bodhe, at a recent meeting. The study is aimed at analysing the merits and demerits of making SCB employees collect and assess the profit generated through this mechanism.
This will be compared with the profits earned by contractors through collection of taxes. If it turns out that the Board employees can collect more taxes than private contractors, then it will be beneficial to the Board, Mr. Bodhe had pointed out. He wanted the authorities to complete the study by November-end and submit a report.
Every year, private parties bag octroi and toll tax contracts for huge amounts, and this year, they are worth Rs. 10 crore. Interestingly, in 2011-12, the SCB authorities were forced to cancel the contracts thanks to complaints of charging excess fees from citizens by contractors.
However, the move to deploy SCB staff at check-posts has not been too successful either. Every time the contracts were terminated, the staffers were given additional duty of collecting tax at as many as 14 check-posts. But this led to other citizen services like issuance of birth and death certificates, collection of property tax and sanitation work getting hit.
The revenues, too, were poor. Since the Board staff do not work round-the-clock, the collection dropped by 50 per cent, an official disclosed. And, if the Board wants to deploy its permanent staff, then fresh recruitment has to be done, which again requires more funds, said an elected Board member.