Audit report reveals establishment cost is within ceiling fixed by government; Increased revenue to help recruit more hands

At last, there is some good news for Madurai Corporation. The local body, handicapped by inadequate manpower, can fill up vacancies soon, thanks to efforts taken by the officials.

The strength of the workforce has been on the wane for the past several years due to retirement and death of employees in harness even as the Corporation could not recruit fresh hands owing to a restriction on recruitment as expenditure on establishment had crossed 49 per cent of the revenue.

The officials had been claiming that the government had put a cap on the establishment cost and the civic body could not fill the vacancies. The vacancies among the sanitary workers alone crossed 1,000, said Corporation Commissioner R. Nanthagopal.

This resulted in the civic body struggling to remove garbage in the city even as its area expanded three-fold last year. No council meeting ever concluded without the councillors complaining of lack of workforce in their wards to take care of the basic requirements such as repairing electric motors, switching on streetlights, and regulating the water supply.

Every time the officials had expressed their helplessness by pointing at the restriction on recruitment. “We employed a team of auditors to study the balance sheet of the Corporation. The team looked into minute details of the establishment cost of each of the around 3,500 employees and officials, and a similar number of pensioners,” Mr. Nanthagopal said.

While the establishment cost had been projected as 74 per cent of the total revenue of the Corporation after the additional financial burden due to implementation of Pay Commission recommendations, the exercise by auditors revealed that the actual establishment cost was only around 47.5 per cent. “It turned out to be less than the ceiling fixed by the government. The details of the audit report has been submitted to the Commissioner of Municipal Administration, which has been approved by the government,” the Commissioner said.

Besides, in the recent times, the Corporation has taken a slew of steps to augment its revenue by identifying under-assessed and unassessed buildings for levy of property tax. The officials, led by Deputy Commissioner K. Sambhavi, identified several buildings and augmented property tax demands to the tune of few crores of rupees.

Besides, the Corporation has begun to issue self-assessment forms to the building owners with the aim of detecting loss of revenue by way of under-assessed and unassessed buildings. “We have warned the building owners of imposing a huge fine if they make false claims about the building details in the self-assessment forms. We hope to plug the revenue leakage that could add to our income to a substantial extent,” Mr. Nanthagopal said.

On taking over the toll gate collection on the Ring Road by appointing Corporation Bill Collectors, the daily collection has gone up substantially.

With the increased revenue, the officials hope to fill up many of the vacancies after getting clearance from the government.

Anticipating a favourable order, the Corporation has started an exercise to prepare the seniority list of applicants seeking employment on compassionate grounds. Verification of certificates from around 160 among 240 applicants has been completed. “We want to keep ready the seniority list so that it will be helpful in filling up vacancies without any delay after getting the government nod,” the Commissioner said.

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