Rs.581-crore external funds take centre stage
Thiruvananthapuram: A massive dose of external assistance to the tune of Rs.581 crore, mainly from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), forms the mainstay of the City Corporation's budget for the year 2007- 08 that was presented in the Council on Wednesday.
No new taxes have been proposed in the Rs.4.01-crore surplus budget that shows an all-time record revenue and expenditure of Rs.674.32 crore and Rs.670.31 crore respectively. The revenue figures represent a 245 per cent increase over last year's budget.
Deputy Mayor V. Jayaprakash read out the budget speech after the introductory remarks by Mayor C. Jayan Babu.
In his address to the council, Mr. Jayaprakash said the corporation was committed to the elevation of the capital city to the status of a metropolitan in five years. The Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) termed the budget as a package of tall claims and hollow promises designed to hoodwink the public.
The police foiled two attempts by the workers of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha to storm the office grounds in protest against the ADB loan for the corporation.
The annual outlay for the projects to be taken up under the JNNURM includes Rs.345 crore for sanctioned schemes and Rs.114.5 crore for those awaiting clearance. The Union Government will finance 80 per cent of the project cost, with the State Government and the corporation bearing the remaining expense. The ADB loan is pegged at Rs.121.64 crore.
The external assistance is to be used mainly for improvement of sewerage and water supply networks, drainage system, roads and traffic, and basic services for the urban poor.
Among the Plan schemes, the public health sector gets the highest budgetary allocation of Rs.27.65 crore, while an amount of Rs.26.64 crore has been earmarked for public works. The education sector gets an outlay of Rs.2.69 crore. Insurance cover for differently-abled persons and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and a cancer treatment scheme for citizens are the major welfare schemes listed in the budget.
Later, talking to reporters, the Mayor said the corporation would register a 20 per cent increase in tax revenue if the Government approved the proposal to implement a plinth-area based system of property taxation. He said the Plan fund utilisation for last year was expected to be over 60 per cent.
Mr. Jayaprakash said the corporation could recover Rs.2 crore as tax arrears following the decision to waive the penal interest.