Civic administrators slam cash-strapped corporation’s move to give 25% discount

The cash-strapped Kochi Corporation got a tongue-lashing after it offered a generous tax exemption to the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) for the one-day cricket match at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium.

A meeting of political party leaders convened by Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany on Wednesday decided to allow 25 per cent concession on entertainment tax for the cricket match between India and West Indies to be held on November 21.

A few civic administrators, including Works Standing Committee chairman T.J. Vinod and Opposition councillors, have opposed the decision of the local body.

Mr. Vinod, also a Congress councillor, said the rebate was proposed at a time when the corporation was finding it difficult to raise funds for meeting its statutory expenses. The decision would cost the local body over Rs.1 crore, he said.

“There cannot be any justification for allowing tax discounts to agencies like the KCA. The decision will burn holes in the pocket of the local body and hence needs to be reversed. A section of the Congress councillors will oppose the decision when it comes to the corporation council for approval,” said Mr. Vinod.

Slamming the decision, K.N. Sunilkumar, the CPI(M) Parliamentary party secretary in the council, said the charity of the local body came at a time when it had not even paid the salary of a section of contingency workers who were deputed to each division of the local body. “As their salary is due for three months, a few workers have stopped turning up for work,” he said.

The representatives of the CPI(M) had not participated in the all-party meeting that took the decision for allowing discount. “The rebate will be opposed in the council. The decision of the local body to allot tax rebate for an organisation like KCA, which could organise the matches on their own, cannot be justified,” he said.

The KCA is already mired in a controversy. Poor drainage at the Kaloor stadium had created a wet outfield, which hampered play during the Duleep Trophy semi-final and final. Even Union Minister Shashi Tharoor, a cricket enthusiast, had slammed the KCA for inadequate infrastructure, he said.

Mr. Chammany said the waiver was considered at KCA’s request. They requested 100 per cent waiver, but the meeting decided to limit it to 25 per cent, he said.

B. Bhadra, Deputy Mayor and chairperson of the Finance Standing Committee of the local body, said a section of the committee members had opposed the proposal.

The organisers of the match will make a presentation on various categories of tickets and seating facilities at the stadium on Thursday. “The committee will take a final call after the presentation,” she said.

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