Staff Reporter

Proposal to enhance property tax dropped

VIJAYAWADA: The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) approved a record budget of Rs. 452 crores.

The Corporation dropped the proposal to enhance the property tax by 10 per cent. A resolution for amending the draft budget introduced by CPI (M) floor leader Ch. Babu Rao was defeated 40-17 with the TDP extending support to the CPI (M) and the CPI extending support to the Congress.

Mayor Tadi Sakuntala conducted a voice vote and asked the corporators in support of the resolution to raise their hands. When only 17 corporators raised their hands, she declared that the amendment was rejected.

`Unrealistic'

The CPI (M) and the TDP dubbed the figures in the draft budget as "unrealistic". They wanted the draft to be amended to include allocation of ward budget to all 59 divisions and 40 per cent of the income for improvement of slums. They wanted an assurance that property tax, charges for underground drainages, building licenses, membership fees for stadiums and swimming pools were not enhanced. They also wanted an assurance that water-meters would not be fixed.

The mayor, briefing the general body on the draft proposals, said the revised budget for 2005-06 was Rs 223 crores. Though the general body approved a budget for Rs 306 crores, the budget had to be revised as the Rs-100-crore World Bank loan had failed to materialise.

TDP protests

A discussion on the budget began only after Congress floor leader Kunuku Rajasekhar introduced an amendment to drop the 10 per cent hike in property tax proposed in the draft.

The TDP corporators protested against the budget proposals holding placards. TDP floor leader Yerubothu Ramana Rao said the revenue figures in the budget were inflated and designed to hoodwink the public.

CPI (M) floor leader said that the budget proposals were impressive. There were, however, doubts about its implementation. The official machinery was not in the control of the elected body. Drafting and approval of budgets were reduced to a formality and the development works taken up later had nothing to do with the budgets.

Senior corporator Samanthapudi Narasaraju defended the budget proposals saying they were quite realistic.

The works to be taken up with the Rs-250 crores shown as JNNURM grant was therefore shown separately.