Mumbai

BMC bucks the trend

Despite the slowdown and revenue receipts dwindling, the civic body has increased its budget outlay by 8.95%. Capital expenditure has also been hiked from ₹11,480 crore to ₹14,637 crore to fast-track its big-ticket projects

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday unveiled its budget for 2020-21 with a total outlay of ₹33,441 crore, a 8.95% increase from last year.

In an unusual move, which BMC sources said was the first of its kind, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi thanked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray while presenting his first budget in the standing committee. He said, “For the first time, a Mumbai-born, Shri Uddhavji Thackeray, is the honourable CM. This is a great opportunity to transform Mumbai into a happy city.” A large part of the speech was focused on improving happiness indicators such as speedy commute, pure water, and quality education and healthcare services. The Chief Minister had highlighted the same priorities in a BMC meeting as part of his Mumbai 2030 plan.

Though revenue receipts have dwindled (₹14,828 crore up to December 2019), the BMC has estimated higher revenue receipts (₹28,448 crore) for the next year. Based on these anticipated receipts, it has raised the allocation for capital expenditure from ₹11,480 crore to ₹14,637 crore to fund big-ticket projects. Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said, “We will focus on recovering pending property tax, an increase of at least ₹1,500 crore. The second source of revenue is development premium by way of compounding. A large number of properties have enclosed non-paid floor space index (FSI) which can be regularised by paying an additional amount.”

Mr. Pardeshi was referring to a BMC policy where, as per the Development Control Rules, conditional additional FSI/fungible FSI will be granted for regularisation of flower beds, decks, and lofts. The BMC will levy a compounding fees of 15% of the ready reckoner value on unauthorised use of FSI. It is hoping to raise ₹600 crore through this step.

BMC bucks the trend

Mr. Pardeshi said the third major source of revenue would be unused municipal properties. He said, “Even though lease rates are frozen, if there is change of use, we will charge extra, or gain from the redevelopment of such properties. Besides, vacant land tenancies can become regular lessees by paying the necessary charges. For breach of existing lease, we have increased the rates. They will also have to pay an additional FSI for regularisation. This will help old tenants living in dilapidated structures as the builder will have to pay lease premium, penalty premium and fungible FSI. The tenants will be shielded.”

Like last year, the civic body will draw ₹4,380.77 crore from its fixed deposits. In total, ₹52,635 crore in fixed deposits are tied to development projects and the remaining ₹22,000 crore to commitments such as the employees’ provident fund. The civic body had drawn ₹5,708 crore from its fixed deposits last year. The BMC plans to reduce revenue expenditure from ₹19,205 crore to ₹18,797 crore.

Feeling the pinch

Since municipal charges have not been increased in the past 10-15 years, a 5% hike in fees has been imposed on several services, such as issuance of trade licence, market licence and birth certificate, to keep up with the rate of inflation. However, the burden on general tax has not been increased. As part of property tax reforms, instead of water taxes and sewerage taxes, garbage, sewage and water fees will be collected.

In another first, the Municipal Commissioner has allotted ₹300 crore for wards so that they can take up development work without approaching the headquarters for funds. Development work such as improvement of footpaths, gardens, street signs, and public toilets will be carried out with the help of technical experts.

BMC bucks the trend

The budget also focused on acquiring reserved amenity plots as marked in the development plan by giving transferable development rights (TDR) or following the accommodation reservation policy. In case the plot is encroached upon, it will be acquired by way of TDR only as paying from the BMC’s coffers is unviable.

Meanwhile, in a blow to aspirants for government jobs, the civic body has put on hold recruitment to fill vacant posts till revenues show an upward trend. The civic body will hire apprentices for a period of six months to one year, but will not give them a permanent job. So far, the BMC has paid 50% of arrears as per the 7th Pay Commission and will disburse the remaining amount in three instalments.

HIGHLIGHTS

Prize for best solutions: ₹15 crore has been allocated to give grants/work orders up to ₹50 lakh to implement solutions proposed by residents to key issues. Winners will be picked based on the solution’s participant effectiveness and financial criteria.

Garden in Backbay Reclamation: A consultant has been appointed to prepare a detailed project report.

Decorative lighting: Worli fort will be decked up with energy-efficient LED lights. The project is expected to be completed in 2020-21.

Sports complex: A multi-storeyed structure will be constructed at Ghatkopar.

Safety cover: 2,593 protective grilles will be installed on storm water drains in the city.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 12:53:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/bmc-bucks-the-trend/article30737989.ece

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