Cabinet steps to boost civic body

NEW DELHI, FEB. 26. To improve civic administration in the Capital, the Delhi Cabinet today took a series of decisions, including the setting up of a Municipal Reforms Incentive Fund and carrying out amendments to the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957. The Cabinet meeting chaired by the Delhi Chief Minister, Sheila Dikshit, also approved the recommendations of the Second Delhi Finance Commission with certain changes. It would now be tabled in the next session of the Delhi Assembly.

As per the Cabinet decision, the Grant-in-Aid to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and New Delhi Municipal Council would be increased by one per cent in the next five years. The decision to set up a Municipal Reforms Incentive Committee, as the name suggests, is to give incentives for carrying out reforms in the civic bodies like the Unit Area Method for House Tax, and introduction of double entry system for accounting.

The Cabinet also decided to give a three years moratorium on re-payment of fresh loans by the Delhi Government to the MCD. "Now the first instalment of re-payment of loan would start from the fourth years,'' a senior official said.

Aimed at strengthening primary education, the Delhi Cabinet decided to increase the non-Plan Grant meant exclusively for this sector from the existing 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the total grant. Further, 5 per cent of the total grant would be earmarked only for maintenance of educational buildings.

The Cabinet also decided to give incentive to the MCD for raising additional revenue. "If the MCD introduces a new tax, it would be given 2 per cent of the collection,'' he said. Even in the case existing taxes, the Delhi Government decided to give incentive for better collection of taxes.

Approving the Delhi Municipal Corporation Amendment Bill, 2004 to be presented in the next session of the Delhi Assembly, the Cabinet removed the upper ceiling of Rs. 500 for commercial and industrial activities in conforming and non-conforming areas. "It would now be levied on a case to case basis,'' the official said, referring to the Cabinet decision.