iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 14, 2013
Facing criticism for the budget for 2013-14, civic chief Sitaram Kunte addressed the concerns of former bureaucrats, experts and citizens at a seminar on Wednesday. While Kunte said that the local body tax that would replace the “archaic octroi tax system” would not affect the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation’s total revenue, his predecessor Subodh Kumar claimed otherwise.

“The focus of this year’s budget is on taking forward the projects that were envisioned in the earlier budgets. While abolishing octroi is a welcome move, we need to mull over the decision to introduce the local body tax. The BMC could also consider alternative taxes to generate revenue,” said Kumar.

Organised by the Maharashtra Economic Development Council in collaboration with NGO Bombay First, the discussion was on the implications of the civic budget presented by Kunte on February 4.

The total budget outlay this year is Rs. 27,578 crore, as against Rs. 26,581 crore last year.

Capital value-based property tax system too was discussed at the meet.

“After having waited for so long, it would have been better if we would take one more year to come up with supportive infrastructure such as departmental convergence, online tax calculator and submission,” said professor Abhay Pethe from the department of economics, Mumbai University. 

Defending his decision, Kunte said, “To make Mumbai business-friendly, we had to get rid of archaic systems and introduce service-level benchmarking. The reports received from the municipal corporations of neighbouring areas such as Vasai-Virar and Kalyan-Dombivli showed that they had not suffered a loss of revenue by changing the system.”