The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has yet again presented an inflated budget for 2013-14 fiscal with an outlay of Rs. 8,520.56 crore. This, despite the government directing the Mayor to present a “realistic budget based on revenue generated in the previous fiscal.”
In a first, Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy presented the surplus budget on Friday amidst protests by the Opposition councillors. The Opposition councillors, who were all sporting black bands, stormed the well and protested against the “bogus budget”. They claimed that there was no transparency in the budget preparation. Despite their protest, Mr. Murthy continued to read the budget.
The budget envisages tax revenue of Rs. 3,307.50 crore, Rs. 2,290.04 crore from non-tax revenue sources. It has also taken into account the government grants amounting to Rs. 1,732.88 crore. The estimated expenditure is Rs. 8,519.66 crore, which includes capital expenditure of Rs. 5,762.18 crore and revenue expenditure of Rs. 2,757.48 crore. The overall surplus is expected to be Rs. 90 lakh.
As expected, a large chunk of the tax revenue is from property tax. The BBMP expects to collect Rs. 3,200 crore from the 16 lakh properties in the city. It also expects to collect Rs. 550 crore from telecom companies and other agencies that have laid optic fibre cables. However, this can be collected only after the government approves the draft amendment to the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. The other tax revenues include Rs. 107.50 from advertisement tax and Rs. 25 crore from trade licences.
Though the Opposition parties – Congress and Janata Dal (S) – labelled the budget as “bogus”, the outlay is lesser than those presented in the previous fiscals. The 2010-11 budget was for Rs. 8,848 crore, while the 2011-12 budget was for Rs. 9,380 crore. The outlay of the 2012-13 budget was Rs. 9,937 crore.
Ruling Party Leader N. Nagaraju maintained that this year’s budget was “realistic”. “The budget has covered road development, improvement of parks, gives priority to improving the green cover and has many welfare schemes.” He, however, conceded that few of his party colleagues were discontented with the budget.
Opposition Leader M.K. Gunashekar charged the Ruling Party for presenting a “bogus budget for the four time in a row.” “There is nothing new in the budget. It is heavily dependent on government grants and is unrealistic. The BBMP will not be able to achieve even 50 per cent of the budget. I will urge Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and city in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy to direct the BBMP to revise the outlay,” he told reporters later.
Earlier, while Mr. Murthy was presenting the budget, Yeshwantpur councillor and Rajarajeshwainagar MLA Munirathna Naidu snatched the budget copies from the council staff who were distributing it and threw it. Later, four councillors, including Mr. Naidu, continued their protest by staging a dharna in the well. They refused to resume their seats even after Mr. Murthy urged them to do so.
Mr. Munirathna claimed that the budget had overlooked 14 wards that come under Rajarajeshwarinagar and Bangalore South Assembly constituencies in view of the code of conduct that in force ahead of the byepoll to the Bangalore Rural parliamentary constituency.