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Municipal commissioners told to levy tax on BSNL offices

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Augmenting revenue: Banumathi, adviser to the Fourth State Finance Commission (left), speaking at the workshop in Vellore on Wednesday.
Augmenting revenue: Banumathi, adviser to the Fourth State Finance Commission (left), speaking at the workshop in Vellore on Wednesday.

Special Correspondent

Fourth State Finance Commission convenes meeting of municipal commissioners

VELLORE: Additional Director of Municipal Administration D. Chandrasekharan has asked municipal commissioners to levy tax on the offices of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in their respective jurisdiction, since BSNL is a company and not a government department.

He was presiding over a meeting of municipal commissioners of Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram and Cuddalore districts convened by the Fourth State Finance Commission (SFC) at the Collectorate here on Wednesday.

Mr. Chandrasekharan said that several court judgments regarding levy of property tax on the BSNL had gone in favour of the local bodies.

He also asked the commissioners to levy tax on cable TV operators. On the Commercial Tax Department writing off Rs.16-crore tax due from cable TV operators to the local bodies, he said that the department did not have rights to do so.

The meeting was convened by the SFC to review the revenue collection by the municipalities under various heads as on March 31, so as to send proposals to the SFC on the apportionment of funds from the Central and State governments to various local bodies based on their needs.

The municipal commissioners were given questionnaires seeking details of collections of tax and other revenue. Mr. Chandrasekharan asked the municipal commissioners to furnish correct particulars to enable the Department of Municipal Administration and Water Supply (MAWS) to obtain the funds due to the local bodies from the revenue collected by the government departments, including the Department of Commercial Taxes, and from the SFC grants.

The MAWS Department is following a scientific method of assessing tax, and therefore, there was no scope for reducing the tax on appeals, since the tax rates have been determined scientifically, he said.

Banumathi, adviser to the SFC, told the municipal commissioners to mobilise profession tax from assessees and try to raise the revenue of the local bodies. Revision of profession tax was due from October 1, 2008. She told the municipal commissioners to furnish details of the solid waste management (SWM) project implemented by them, and whether they have purchased land as per the criterion of possessing one acre of land for every 10,000 population for the purpose of SWM.

Mr. Chandrasekharan said that the municipalities are bound by the Union government's rules to dispose of garbage in a scientific manner.

C. Rajendran, Vellore Collector, said that many local bodies did not have adequate funds even to meet basic needs such as drinking water and roads. Therefore, he urged the municipal commissioners to furnish correct particulars about tax collection so that the municipalities could obtain adequate funds from the SFC.

R. Ramalingam, member secretary of the SFC, said that the SFC would be apportioning funds to various local bodies from the funds made available by the State government. Forty-two per cent of the funds would be given to the Corporations, municipalities and town panchayats, and 58 per cent to village panchayats, he said.

While the local bodies were managing only with their own revenue collections in the past, they now have the benefit of Central and State government funds, SFC grants and equalisation fund, he said.

S. Balasubramaniam, Regional Director of Municipal Administration, Vellore, and Manoharan, deputy secretary of the SFC, spoke.

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