Civic bodies worried about political fallout

The new property tax regime, which may burden Kochi residents with a tax hike ranging between 25 per cent and 150 per cent, is here to stay.

Minister for Urban Affairs Manjalamkuzhi Ali said the local bodies had no other option but to implement the revised tax structure.

Responding to the sentiments raised in the Kochi Corporation council last week, Mr. Ali said many local bodies in the State had implemented it.

Tax had to be collected for implementing development programmes, and the local bodies would have to go by the revised tax structure, which was originally mooted by the previous government, he said.

All that the State government had done was to correct the anomalies in the tax revision suggested by the previous LDF government, which had led to huge hike in some areas. Going by the earlier suggestion, tax would have gone up to 900 per cent in some areas of the State, he said.

The State government rationalised the tax regime and proposed a minimum hike of 25 per cent across the board. It was also proposed that the upper ceiling of the tax revision shall be 150 per cent. The local bodies were permitted to fix the rate of revision in their respective areas within the tax range, he said.

Mr. Ali, who maintained that he was unaware of the political compulsions of local bodies regarding the tax hike, also questioned the opposition to the proposal, which was in circulation for more than one year.

Meanwhile, Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany said a political decision on the tax structure should be taken as it would put additional burden on the residents. The issue would be brought to the attention of the Congress leadership, the government and the Minister concerned, he said.

Mr. Chammany had also taken up the issue at a meeting of the Congress civic heads held in Kochi recently.

Several Congress councillors had equated the tax proposal to the steep hike in LPG prices during the previous UPA government. They sounded caution against the introduction of the tax during the election year as it would trigger public outrage.

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