Will the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) be able to repair its image when it comes to the implementation of the budget in the next financial year? For 2016-17, only an estimated 62.3% of the budget was realised. This is a huge fall from the implementation rate of the previous budget that was at an all-time high of 87.36%. A look at some of the key problem areas:
BBMP missed the property tax target for the year by ₹900 crore, collecting a total of ₹2,200 crore as against a target of ₹3,100 crore, burning a big hole in the budget outlay. Civic sources say that, to date, over 1.5 lakh properties have not paid property tax. They will be taking up a special drive issuing notices to defaulters.
The implementation of social welfare schemes in the budget has been below satisfactory for consecutive years, concedes M.K. Gunashekhar, chairman, Standing Committee for Taxation and Finance, BBMP. “Funds for social welfare schemes do not lapse with the close of the fiscal. Over the last two years, we have over ₹600 crore pending that I have now ordered to ringfence and prioritise when spending,” he said.
However, the BBMP defends the implementation rate of 62.3% as a better one than previous years. “The implementation rate of the budget has been steadily increasing over the years and 2015-16 (87.3%) was an exception,” Mr. Gunashekhar said.
V. Ravichandar, member, BBMP Restructuring Committee, said that the problem has always been budgets that were not rooted in reality. “Aspiring to be populist, most city budgets have had a tendency to overstate both revenue and expenditure, which eventually is not implemented,” he said.
How then did the 2015-16 Budget achieve a whopping 87.36% implementation then? The answer probably justifies the argument of inflated budget statements.
BJP, then in power, presented a budget of ₹6,728 crore in March 2015, which administrator T.M. Vijay Bhaskar then got approved for a corrected outlay of ₹5,729 crore, almost a ₹1000 crore lesser. The budget implementation rate that year hence achieved a 87.36% rate, a senior BBMP official explained.