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More civic taxes for Mumbaikars!

business Updated: Oct 28, 2007 02:40 IST
Uma Upadhyaya

You may soon have to pay more civic taxes and for bus rides.

That’s because the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has decided to distribute Rs 96 crore as ex-gratia to its staff this Diwali. And it’s you who will make up the deficit for a civic body that has just come out of the red.

Late on Friday, the civic body ruled by the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance gave in to pressure from the unions and decided to pay each of its 1.1 lakh staffers Rs 8,000 as ex-gratia. That’s Rs 500 more than last year.

Mayor Shubha Raul, meanwhile, is putting pressure on the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) to grant a similar benefit to its staff. With 45,000 employees, it spends Rs 33 crore every year on Diwali bonus. BEST, though, wants to give bonus only to power division employees, not the loss-making transport unit.

A rare financial surplus, of Rs 54 lakh, was forecast for the civic body at the beginning of the financial year. Faced with the prospect of the surplus being converted into a deficit of over Rs 95.5 crore, the civic body would be left with little choice but to raise taxes, said a top official on condition of anonymity.

Raul told HT: “It’s a custom to give Diwali bonus. We’ll make up the losses by generating more revenue.”

Senior bureaucrats, who have the unenviable task of balancing income and expenditure, were

opposed to the ex-gratia payment.

Citizen’s groups weren’t pleased either. G.R.Vora, of the F/North Ward Citizen Federation, said: “They succumb easily to unions’ arm-twisting. Instead of checking spends, they’re giving in to blackmail.”