BBMP wants citizens to pay land transport cess

Shortly after announcing its decision to start collecting a ₹200 service charge for door-to-door collection of garbage from households, the financially beleaguered Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) hopes to start collecting another cess from tax-paying citizens. BBMP Administrator Gaurav Gupta recently gave his assent to the collection of land transport cess along with property tax. The amount will be 2% of the property tax.

Though approved by the Administrator, it has to be ratified by the State government. If the BBMP get its way, then the property tax paid by citizens will see an increase in the coming fiscal, when it is likely to be implemented, said sources in the civic body’s Revenue Department.

The BBMP already collects four cesses – Beggary, Library, Health and Solid Waste Management – along with property tax. Sources said that it has been estimated that nearly ₹150 crore can be collected as land transport cess, if the State government gives its approval.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that the cess has been proposed. After audit objections were raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the civic body had tabled the proposal several times before the BBMP’s elected council. However, the council deferred the decision on the cess each time it was tabled.

Earlier in January this year, the then Mayor M. Goutham Kumar approved the proposal and stated that the money collected would be used for maintenance of roads. However, following objection, he did a U-turn, claiming the decision to levy the cess had been deferred, not approved.

BBMP Special Commissioner (Revenue) Basavaraj S. was not available for comment, despite repeated attempts.

Citizens up in arms

Citizens have expressed their objection to the new cess given the abysmal quality of roads and the fact that many families are facing financial constraints due to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

G.S. Renukaprasad, president of Shanthinagar Residents’ Welfare Association, pointed out that citizens are already paying high road tax. “We are not bothered if the road tax is going to the government or the BBMP. What we want is simple: good roads. However, the roads in the city are riddled with potholes, are dug up and in poor motorable condition. Why should citizens be burdened with this cess?”

Prakash D.R., founder-president of Osborne Road Residents’ Welfare Association, who is also a property tax consultant, said that property owners were not bound to pay for maintenance of roads. The road tax collected should be shared between government and BBMP.

“Citizens are struggling to earn a livelihood, and this is not the time to impose the cess,” he said, and added that instead of burdening citizens, the BBMP should collect arrears from various government departments.

Former BBMP Opposition Leader Abdul Wajid reiterated that the elected body had rejected the cess proposal several times. “Power tariff was increased, BBMP is going to start collecting service charge for solid waste management… and now, this additional cess. How much more will citizens be burdened?”

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 4:16:45 AM |

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