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Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, March 01, 2013
The Union Budget for 2013-14 put a dampener on Mumbai's multi-billion dollar makeover plan and the state Congress-led government's hope of getting some sops before the 2014 polls.

Union finance minister P Chidambaram ignored the city's glaring infrastructure deficits and demands from several stakeholders to give Mumbai a special tag.

For maximum city, the hope now rests in reading between the lines. This includes the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds, which has been nearly doubled to Rs14,837 crore.

A big chunk of this will go to buy buses, the finance minister said.

City planners hope that some of those funds will come in handy for the proposed air-conditioned point-to-point bus services. 

The civic authorities are hoping that Rs. 200 crore pending from the Centre for the first phase of BRIMSTOWARD project will come from this, but there is no mention of it in the budget.

"It's a big disappointment because not only is there no special status given to any of the big-ticket projects, but also JNNURM (II) has not been introduced. We had a big line up of projects that could have got assistance from JNNURM," said a senior official.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had petitioned to the Centre for a special category under JNNURM II for national projects, including the coastal road project and Navi Mumbai airport, to enable them to get 90% funding. 

Mumbai Inc is also disappointed with Chidambaram's silence on creating an International Finance Centre (IFC) in Mumbai.

"We had written to the Prime Minister and the finance minister to take Mumbai as IFC trajectory forward by setting up of an international banking operations centre. This requires minimal regulatory changes and could have gone a long way to transform the city," said Narinder Nayar, chairman, Mumbai First, initiative of private businesses that is partnering with the state government for the city's makeover.

The finance department officials are, however, happy about mention of the early rolling out of the goods and services tax. The state is likely to get Rs. 500 crore out of the Rs. 9,000 crore kept aside as compensation for all the states for reduction in the central sales tax.