K.V. Prasad

The Corporation has collected Rs. 17.55 crores as Property Tax

COIMBATORE: With just four days to go for the close of the 2005-06 financial year, the Coimbatore Corporation is yet to touch the halfway mark in Property Tax and Water Tax collection. While the Property Tax collection is just 41 per cent (as on Monday morning), for Water Tax it is 46.27 per cent.

A brisk start in the beginning of the fiscal and even towards the half-year stage indicated that the Corporation would achieve the target of Rs. 42.22 crores of Property Tax (from over 1,94,906-lakh building owners) and Rs. 8.23 crores of Water Tax (from over 98,620 connections). The present figures only point to a sluggish collection forced by a combination of reasons. While councillors had always alleged poor effort on the part of officials in collecting taxes, official sources point out that manpower had to be used for other works such as electoral rolls revision and this had hit tax collection.

The Corporation has collected Rs. 17.55 crores as Property Tax and Rs. 3.81 crores in Water Tax. Now, it is left with very little time to mop up the balance. For close to two years, the Corporation has been tough on defaulters.

Disconnection of drinking water lines had driven defaulters to the tax counters. But, more than this approach, the Corporation expects compliance from taxpayers as it has opened 17 centres across the city for this purpose.

Earlier, people complained of long queues at the very few counters that were available at the main office and the four zonal offices. While this had been cited as one of the reasons for poor compliance, the opening of the special computerised centres had been expected to make things easier for them.

The `pay tax anywhere' concept includes special counters in nationalised and private banks also. When default had continued to persist despite such facilities, the Corporation pulled out the hacksaw and disconnected water lines as a punitive measure. The civic body had also appealed to the people to pay tax promptly as this was the main source of funding development in the city. Corporation sources say that a culture of voluntary payment should prevail. Only then can the Corporation provide all amenities such as roads and drainage to the taxpayers.