Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: Minister for Municipal Administration A. Ramnarayan Reddy evaded a direct reply on whether the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) was planning to hike the property tax, in the Legislative Council on Friday. He, however, admitted that the civic body had been planning to rationalise the tax structure.

Independent member K. Nageshwar, who raised the issue during the Question Hour, said the government itself was planning to amend the law concerned to allow the civic body to go for the hike on the pretext of rationalisation.

Instead, the finances of the civic body could be enhanced by giving local bodies their due share in the Central funds and in the tax collection by the State, he suggested.

Supporting Mr. Nageshwar's apprehension, TDP member Ibrahim Bin Abdullah Masquati said that when there was a proposal to hike the property tax by the MCH in 1993, the self-assessment system was introduced to hike the tax as direct hike was not possible due to some legal disputes. The present attempt was on similar lines, he noted. To a separate question on the issue of misuse of funds in GHMC raised by Mr. Masquati, P. Yadagiri and P. Nageswara Rao (all TDP), the Minister stated that an inquiry found no evidence of misuse.

But nine recommendations of the probe committee were being implemented to prevent misuse.

The members alleged that about Rs.100 crore was misused during 2007-09 on fuel purchases and maintenance of vehicles.

The GHMC had 745 own vehicles and hired another 224.

Even the new vehicles which would generally give 150 to 20 KMPL mileage were shown giving only 3 KMPL like the heavy vehicles, the members pointed out. A deputy executive engineer was suspended and a superintendent transferred before the inquiry to ensure a fair probe, the Minister noted.