Chandigarh not generating revenue as per its potential
Chandigarh has been picked as one of the cities for transforming it into a smart city and the time taken for achieving the goal will depend on the local administration’s ability to generate funds. Revenue is the pivot around which development revolves. Unfortunately, the city has been short of funds. For instance, it suffered a loss of `60 crore due to non-imposition of tax last year. The fourth Delhi finance commission had pointed to Chandigarh’s grave inefficiency in generating revenue according to its potential. Therefore, city’s development is not up to public expectations. It is a fact that the city residents are quite affluent and can shell out the proposed amount in lieu of better services. The proposed house tax starts from houses covering an area of 125 square yard or more. Let us accept it with a smile.
Paras R Kalotra, SAS Nagar
There are no free lunches
Chandigarh fares well on various parameters: literacy rate, per capita income, vehicle density, etc. But when it comes to paying for services we buckle — we want free passes for cricket matches and plays. We need to remember there is no free lunch. The Centre has rightly mandated that property tax should be paid if a city wants grants under its urban renewal mission. To top it all, we have political parties scoring brownie points. They lack the moral courage to explain to the people that we need to pay up. They are busy passing the buck. There appears no justification for not allowing the UT administration to implement the tax that will help in improving our standard of living.
Major RS Virk (retired), Chandigarh
Pay the tax and ensure it is used efficiently
Reluctance to pay taxes by citizens and misappropriation of resources by officials is, unfortunately, the most pessimistic aspect of our national culture. Why, after all, should the citizens not pay taxes? Under the veil of poverty, public evades paying taxes but never lags behind in grasping subsidies and freebies, that too, undeservingly. This dubious evasion on the part of people is often encashed by politicians for grinding their own axes. In the given case, citizens’ willingness to pay the tax and keeping an eye on its usage by public authorities holds the key.
MPS Chadha, SAS Nagar
Tax must to get better amenities
Levying of house tax is necessary to provide better facilities to the residents of the City Beautiful. If we need proper utility services, we should not backtrack on this issue. More we contribute to the coffers of the authorities, we can ensure better amenities, including roads, sanitation and electricity. If the civic body does not generate its own sources of income, then the development of the city will never be in line with themodern requirements.
DP Gautam, via email
Pay up to ensure clean environment
House tax will help the MC in carrying out development works. In the US, everyone pays the tax. There, the rate of property shoots up where the tax is more, as the condition of areas where people are not paying it is bad. More and more people want to live in a neat and clean environment. We spend a lot on our property but are reluctant to pay tax to keep the surroundings neat and clean.
Gurmit Singh, SAS Nagar
Impose holistic property tax
The imposition of a fair and reasonable property tax is the need of the hour. The prefix ‘property’ brings in its ambit even vacant pieces of land, which are not being used for residential purposes but of course count as the owner’s assets. Moreover, such properties usually belong to affluent or elite sections of society. Further, the residents who have government accommodation, too, need to pay a rational service charge, as they too avail themselves of the civic amenities provided by the MC. Under our constitution, municipal bodies ought to run their day-to-day affairs, primarily, through self-generated resources and property tax is one of the major components. The formula for imposing the tax must be devised after consultations with all stakeholders.
Hemant Kumar, Ambala
Tax should not pinch too hard
No local, state or central government can run without imposing various taxes to provide best possible amenities and services to citizens. Taxation is one of the essential means to generate finances. But the legendary economist Chanakya had advised the king to impose taxes that are rational, logical, justified and realistic and should not pinch the people too hard. By opposing house tax, both the Congress and BJP councillors want to win popular support. The same councillors are wasting public money on tours with their families. The civic body cannot function well with this mismatch between the income and expenditure. At the same time, it is undemocratic on the part of the UT administrator not to grant more powers to the councillors until they agree to impose the enhanced house tax. These elected representatives are directly answerable and accountable to the people. How is it justified to increase the tax from `1 to `20 within a year? The tax rate must be made rational and justified. The UT administration and municipal corporation must understand each other’s compulsions for the benefit of the city.
Amar Jeet Kumar, SAS Nagar
Increase the rate gradually
Imposition of house tax is fine as long as it is increased gradually. For enhancing revenue, there are many other options as well. When the tax was imposed in 2013, it was said it would be a token amount in order to become eligible to get the Central grant. Also, it is important to monitor that the tax is being paid by all house owners covered under it.
PS Bedi, Chandigarh
Twenty-fold hike not justified
People are not averse to paying house tax, but the twenty-fold increase, as proposed by the UT, is too high a cost for the smart city tag. The deadlock over the issue is because of the fact that while councillors are answerable to their electorate, the administration is not. The councillors are justified in opposing it. Let them and UT officials sit together and work out a solution that will ensure better living conditions for residents.
SC Luthra, Chandigarh
Councillors should spend public money wisely
Although Chandigarh is considered to be an affluent city, all its residents are not so rich. Rather it is a city of working people and they are already paying enough money in the form of taxes. The major reason behind imposing house tax to generate revenue is the councillors’ failure to spend public money wisely for the benefit of the residents. If it is really necessary to impose the tax to make Chandigarh a smart city, the tax should be levied at a reasonable rate.
Suman Kansal, Panchkula
Residents need assurance that funds won’t be misused
Funds are the basic requirement for any kind of development in a city. House tax is another way of collecting funds. It has become a necessity to earn the tag of a smart city for Chandigarh. The real apprehension is that the funds thus collected may be misused on excursions in the name of nonproductive study tours. People will surely come around and pay house tax if it is reasonable and they are assured it will be utilised for the development of the city.
Devinder Garg, Chandigarh
People will pay up if they see development
Chandigarh is the most modern city of our country and deserves to become a smart city. To achieve this tag, politicians, bureaucrats and the public have to work together to fulfil the guidelines. People have to shell out more money in view of better services and improved infrastructure. However, people are already paying a variety of taxes. They will pay extra only if the money is utilised for the betterment of the city.
JP Singh Kalra, via email
First provide ‘smart’ facilities
No one is against enhancing the property tax, but first provide additional facilities of a smart city. It will involve equipping the city with all the basic infrastructure and resources that enable residents to lead a decent life. The administration must also provide smart solutions to various problems faced by the city, including housing, transport, crimes, safety of women, traffic congestion, parking, medical and education infrastructure and encroachments. So, by just naming it a smart city, Chandigarh won’t change. Once people find a change in their quality of life, they will be willing to pay the enhanced property tax.
Madhu RD Singh, Ambala Cantt
Tax should not burden pensioners
The fundamental purpose of tax is to raise revenue effectively, efficiently, and fairly to finance public goods and services, but administrations should also ensure good governance in tax matters than political economy of tax reforms. To declare Chandigarh a smart city, the administration is linking the project with house tax, which is wrong. The bureaucrats are ignoring the fact that most residents are government employees and pensioners with meager resources are residing in private houses. The corrupt bureaucracy is portraying residents as affluent. The councillors, who are opposing the tax, are right. So, for houses built on an area of less than five marla, there should be no tax. Also, widows should be exempted besides retired defence persons and those above the age of 70 years. For others, house tax should be uniform, but reasonable.
Manjinder Pal Singh, SAS Nagar
How about fire-safety fee instead?
Instead of imposing house tax, which incurs overhead expenses, it will be easier and more effective to charge a fixed fire-safety fee. While industrial and commercial units can be made to pay `5,000, residential societies should be levied `100 per flat every year. The municipal corporation should include it in the water bill for the months of January and July. Also, the water charges should be doubled.
Colonel SK Aggarwal (retired), Panchkula
Residents already burdened with various taxes
In a democracy, the public elects the corporation to take decisions on their behalf. The administration’s stand on imposing house tax is depriving the residents of their power and rights. We are already suffering from multiple taxes. Taxes are never collected for a specific purpose. The house tax will generate lesser revenue than the cost of its collection.
Ranjit Singh Dhillon, Chandigarh
MC should do away with frivolous expenditures
Every city is expected to generate its own resources for its upkeep and this applies to Chandigarh as well. However, house tax, water tax and octroi duty are associated with the old times when municipal authorities looked at these as the only option to raise revenue. Chandigarh is a modern city and will not like to be associated with such a traditional concept. The MC is cash-rich and, if required, can think of other means to generate revenue, including by effective savings instead of frivolous expenditures. Think of the hassles of paying all taxes and the time and energy people waste on these and the amount the government has to spend for collecting these. The staff deputed to collect taxes can be better utilised for improving the delivery of various services that will improve the quality of life of citizens. There is a need to curtail the number of taxes and lighten the burden on the common man.
DS Banati, SAS Nagar
UT collecting crores in form of tax on leasehold property
When the UT administration imposed commercial property tax, people were told that this will open the way for a model rent act, but the draconian act remains. When value-added tax was imposed, we were told that central sales tax will be abolished, but it still remains. The position of the Chandigarh MC is different from other municipal bodies as the UT is collecting crores of rupees in the form of ground rent and service tax on leasehold property. The UT can generate enough income by the way of interest on amount collected by converting leasehold properties to freehold.
MP Gupta, Chandigarh
We need corruption-free mechanisms, not more taxes
Roti, kapda aur makaan (food, clothes and house) are the basic amenities. The prices of first two are already skyrocketing, and now comes the shocker for Chandigarh residents in the form of house tax. High-income families may get along with the new tax rules because they already own two or more houses and earn a lot by collecting rent on these properties. But for the middle class, it will be very difficult to pay the extra tax as they put all their life savings in the house and are already fighting tooth and nail to pay the installments and supporting the household expenses. Is making Chandigarh a smart city more important than the needs of its citizens? The need of the hour is not the creation of new revenue sources, but having honest bureaucrats and corruption-free mechanisms.
Amrinder Singh Brar, Chandigarh
Already paying through the nose
When we purchased the plot, we paid for it. We pay for electricity, water and sewage disposal. We pay road tax on every vehicle purchased. We pay taxes on items we purchase for personal use. We even pay entertainment tax every time we see a movie. We pay tax on food we eat in restaurants. How is it justified to make us pay house tax over and above all these taxes? We are already burdened with so many taxes.
Mahavir Jagdev, Chandigarh
Will affect common man, babus have official accommodation
Chandigarh has enough funds for its maintenance. The politicians and bureaucrats won’t be asked to pay house tax as they have been given official accommodation. The imposition of house tax will only burden pensioners who own houses in the city.
Opinder Kaur Sekhon, Chandigarh