CPI(M) picks holes in VMC budget

BUDGET TALK: Citizens and CPI(M) leaders participating in a discussion held on VMC budget on Saturday. - Photo: Ch. Vijaya Bhaskar  

Staff Reporter

10 per cent property tax hike proposal comes under severe criticism

VIJAYAWADA: The city committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Saturday slammed the city budget for 2006-07 passed by the standing committee of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) on March 7, saying it opted to mop up resources through levy of various taxes and charges rather than by attempting to recover the pending dues from the State Government.

With the budget coming up before the VMC general body on March 24 for final approval, the CPI (M) organised a meeting with party leaders and retired officials on the salient features of the new budget and how it can be improved.

`Burden on people'

CPI (M) floor leader in the VMC general body Ch. Babu Rao said that the standing committee had opted for the easier option of burdening people rather than exploring alternative avenues to mobilise the required resources for development works.

Explaining this, he said that the 10 per cent hike in property tax would result in an additional burden of Rs. 5 crores on people. While citizens were already paying through their nose to avail of services like door-to-door collection of garbage and common facilities like public parks and swimming pools, officials were trying to increase revenue in the areas of drinking water supply, building licence fee and trade licences.

Urban mission funds

Mr. Babu Rao said though there was no certainty about funds coming under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the budget had projected many works under this scheme. Also, the VMC would have to go in for new loans to the tune of Rs. 60 crores for contributing its share of funds, which would add up to the corporation's present debt burden of Rs. 100 crores.

Retired district judge D. Satyanarayana Reddy felt that the corporation's general body should have such powers that the State Government could not overrule its resolutions. The corporation should also have powers to attach a property if any one did not pay tax. Mr. Reddy favoured levy of higher taxes on corporate hospitals, cinema halls and cable TV agents.

Gandhi, a representative of the Retired Employees Association, said that the CPI (M) should move a court of law if the VMC hiked the property tax.

CPI (M) city secretary R. Raghu presided over the meeting.