"The tax rate should have been increased in April 2011. However, the Council resolved not to increase it for another two years" said Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council approved the 2012-13 budget with an outlay of Rs. 9,837.21 crore, an increase of Rs. 338.31 crore from the initial Rs. 9,498.90 crore, presented on June 28.

As expected, amid protests by the Opposition Congress and Janata Dal (S) here on Wednesday, the budget was hurriedly approved.

The outlay has been increased after accommodating the suggestions and requests made by various councillors during the five days of discussions, Ruling Party Leader N. Nagaraju said.

Earlier, Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda maintained that the budget was “implementable” provided the BBMP “borrowed a little and increased non-tax revenues”.

He had proposed to increase the property tax and sent a note to the Standing Committee for Taxation and Finance, he said.

“The tax rate should have been increased in April 2011. However, the Council resolved not to increase it for another two years. We have also proposed increased service charges (imposed on those exempted from property tax) from 25 per cent to 50 per cent,” he added.

Mr. Nagaraju later said property tax for residential buildings would not be increased. It would be hiked only for shopping malls, paying guest accommodations and other commercial buildings.

Non-tax revenue

To increase non-tax revenue, the BBMP proposes to double road cutting charges for laying optic fibre cables to Rs. 600 a metre, increase the building licence fee and a 100 per cent hike in the lease and rent rates of BBMP-owned property. Improvement charges would be levied and the subject is likely to be tabled before the Council soon, Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda said.

Spill-over works

The budget has a provision of around Rs. 2,500 crore for spill-over works. Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda said that he had formed a committee, headed by Special Commissioner K.R. Niranjan, to review them zone-wise by August 15 and publish a list of the approved works.

Municipal bonds

Responding to several questions on municipal bonds, Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda said that Union Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath had stated that civic authorities struggling to provide basic amenities must explore this option.

The government issued an order regarding the special grant of Rs. 751 crore for select projects.

“Of this, Rs. 100 crore has been released. The BBMP can float tenders as the government has approved them in principle,” he added.

Two parks

The BBMP proposed to set up two parks on the city’s outskirts with an area of 100 acres each through the Bangalore Development Authority and was in the process of identifying land in Kempe Gowda Layout and near Anjanapura.

The Mayor’s medical grant has seen an increase from Rs. 7 crore to Rs. 10 crore, while the emergency funds with the Standing Committee for Taxation and Finance is up from Rs. 39 crore to Rs. 99 crore.

Mr. Nagaraju said that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor would distribute their grants (totalling Rs. 175 crore ) equitably among all councillors.

A sum of Rs. 50 lakh had been earmarked to provide bicycles to the poor.

The Dr. V.S. Acharya Anila Samparka scheme has not been scrapped; after the gas connections were given, the BPL cards would not be cancelled.

Palike Bazaar plan

The BBMP had dropped the proposal to construct Palike Bazaar at Freedom Park. “There was opposition to it and it would have increased traffic volume in a congested area. This bazaar will now be constructed in the newly added areas,” he said.