Lack of emphasis on tax collection the main reason

The opposition parties and tax payers lament that the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) received a mere Rs. 7.24 crore under non-plan grants from 2005-06 to 2009-10. But the sordid fact is that the Corporation has not laid any emphasis on taxes as well, if the collections were any indication.

Barring Vacant Land Tax (VLT) collection, there is a drop in revenue collections under all major heads like property tax, water tap and sewerage. The fall in revenue collection is not limited to any one circle.

All the three circles in the city fared in similar fashion. The property tax collection during the first half of this financial year (April 1 to September 30) dwindled to Rs. 20.72 crore from Rs. 21.91 crore recorded for the corresponding period of last year. The water tap collections slipped to Rs.31.87 crore from Rs.33.05 crore and the sewerage charges too dropped to Rs. 8.2 lakh from last year's Rs. 8.7 lakh, officials say.

A glance at the performance of the VMC in the first half of the financial year from 2005-06 to 2010-11 indicates that the revenue wing of the Corporation has always fallen short of set targets. Neither was it placing emphasis on ?under-assessed' and ?un-assessed' properties. For instance, property tax collections rose to Rs. 12.65 crore in 2006-07 from Rs. 8.83 crore in 2005-06.

Then Municipal Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar succeeded in revising the ?under-assessed' and ?un-assessed' properties.

When property tax rates were revised in 2006-07, collections jumped to Rs. 18.73 crore. Since then the emphasis on PT collections continued, and the collections reached Rs. 21.79 crore in 2009-10.

A similar emphasis was laid on other heads like vacant land tax, water tap and sewerage charges.

Official sources said that the higher-ups have not reviewed the performance of revenue wing on a regular basis so far.

The demand and collections were earlier reviewed at least every fortnight. The Corporation used to rely on revenue receipts before the State government introduced the Building Penalisation Scheme (BPS).

In the recent past, BPS collections assumed significance as thousands of applications were filed under the scheme.

There is an increase in the VLT collections, sources say, as the Corporation collected the arrears and some new assessments have been added to the list.

The VLT collection came down to Rs. 1.58 crore in 2009-10 from Rs. 2.61 crore in 2007-08. Now, it again touched Rs. 2.15 crore.

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