It is being revised after 17 years: K.C. Joseph

Citizens would soon have to pay local bodies a higher levy on the land and buildings they own, Minister for Rural Development K.C. Joseph said here on Friday.

Briefing newspersons on policy matters related to local development after a meeting of the State Development Council here, Mr. Joseph said revision in property tax was being proposed after 17 years.

The State would fix the revised rate after consulting the Law Department and it would be enhanced by at least one per cent every year.

Such periodic revision would help local bodies augment their “own fund” collection. The government would allow the public “some relaxation” in paying their property tax dues, he said..

He said the government had “in-principle” agreed to a suggestion to permit local bodies to pay up to 50 per cent of the fair price value (FPV) for land they wished to acquire to set up modern abattoirs and crematoriums. As of now, they could only pay up to 30 per cent of the FPV for land acquisition.

The government would accord up to 90 per cent subsidy to set up compost and biogas plants in households and community levels.

He said “local-level opposition” had seriously undermined the efforts of local self-government institutions to establish modern abattoirs and crematoriums.

Local bodies had submitted scores of proposals to set up such facilities, but there have been no takers to implement the projects owing to neighbourhood-level resistance. Hence, the government would set up efficient cold chain backed abattoirs at a centralised level in all districts.

The Minister said State-approved contractors appeared reluctant to take up Centrally-assisted road development projects owing to delay on the part of Union government engineers in carrying out quality checks.

The Union government also insisted that the contractors give a 5-year guarantee for the roads they repaired as a pre-condition for payment of work bills.

Hence, the State government would release Central funds for such projects to tide over the impasse. He said the decision did not entail dilution of Central norms formulated to check shoddy work by Government contractors.

The government would meet the demand of several panchayats to hand over to them local roads, currently maintained by the Public Works Department.

Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb would call a meeting of local bodies to ensure better utilisation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan funds earmarked for improving elementary education in the country, he said. Collectors, MPs, and MLAs will hold a meeting to improve the utilisation of funds set apart for development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Plan funds will be better utilised in the next financial year and the development would be “evident at the ground level,” he said adding that projects for the next year would be approved in March and the government would use specialised computer software to monitor fund utilisation from now on.

The software would help the Government give incentives to panchayats based on their performance. The Government would be able to accurately gauge the performance of local bodies by verifying the time taken to execute schemes after the original projects were approved, among other parameters.

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