Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The lacunae in the resource mobilisation strategies of local bodies and their inability to mobilise and effectively utilise resources from financial institutions for infrastructure development came into focus on the concluding day of a State-level consultation on the terms of reference of the Fourth State Finance Commission on Saturday.

Speaking at a session on resource mobilisation, researchers with the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation (GIFT) pointed out that though there was a strong case for strengthening the tax administration by harnessing the tremendous potential of information and communication technology, the basic need was one of creating ownership in the local community and making them stakeholders. On mobilisation of resources from financial institutions for infrastructure projects, they were of the view that it was necessary to review in depth the current debt financing practices of local bodies and to develop a ‘re-engineering' package to start on a clean slate.

Presenting a papers on ‘Innovative approaches to promote tax consciousness at the local level,' Jose Sebastian and L. Anithakumary, Readers, GIFT, contended that the present system of levying and collection of taxes at the local level was not conducive to promote ownership and voluntary tax compliance from local residents. The situation could be improved by a three-pronged strategy involving a campaign for greater fiscal awareness, campaign for improving service delivery and creation of a synergistic tax compliance climate. There could be ward-level fiscal awareness seminars, measures to make tax assessment transparent, creation of one-stop shop for licences, permits and registration and tax payer assistance cells and flexible working hours to increase ease of tax payment, Dr. Sebastian said.