Commissioner orders stopping of tax collectors' salaries

Poor property tax collection for the current year and piled up arrears have landed Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in a spot.

Apart from meeting its regular commitments, the corporation is racing against time to complete at least some of the projects it took up under the Centrally-sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for which it has to contribute 30 per cent of the cost.

The arrears for years together from various commercial establishments, government departments, and involved in court cases etc runs into about Rs.130 crore.

To realise a part of it, the tax collectors have been asked to issue ‘distraint notices' to top 25 defaulters in each of the six zones. Their not doing it has led to the Municipal Commissioner ordering stopping of their salaries for November.

Sources in the corporation say at least Rs.50 crore of the arrears is realisable. “Why should we take the blame from contractors for delay in payment of bills while tax due to us is with assesses?” the Commissioner was said to have remarked at a recent meeting.

Demand notices

The collection for the current year is also disappointing. The corporation has also issued demand notices for the second half-year (in two quarters). Against a total current demand of Rs.142 crore, so far only Rs.45 crore has been realised. For half-year alone, the demand has been put at more than Rs.70 crore. Now almost nine months into the financial year, even that has not been realised. The Municipal Corporation general body's unanimous resolution urging the government to limit the hike to 75 per cent above that of the tax prevailing in March 31, 2010, still awaits a decision.