Get ready to pay the house tax. After a span of five years and under tremendous pressure from the UT administration, the local municipal corporation is keen on imposing house tax on the city residents.
Members of the house tax assessment committee, at its meeting held on Friday, asked the officials to study the basis of house tax imposition in other cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The committee also decided not to revise commercial tax.
The councillors, however, have been evading the issue for the past five years.
Speaking to HT, house tax committee chairman Sat Parkash Aggarwal said, "We have asked officials to study the basis of house tax imposition in other metropolitan cities. The officials will get the data from these cities and we will hold a meeting in mid May, wherein decision in this regard will be taken."
He said, "Since Punjab is also ready to impose house tax and we follow Punjab rules, so we will also study how they are preparing to impose it. We are also working on modalities that in case the MC is not able to impose the house tax, how much grant it would miss under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM)."
Committee vice-chairman MP Kohli said, "We have decided not to revise commercial tax as revenue generated from it last year was only Rs 15 crore instead of Rs 20 crore. We have asked the officials to get a survey conducted from an agency about the number of commercial buildings, schools and other establishments."
Since last year, a number of commercial buildings had not been paying the tax, he added. The committee also exempted the building of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) at Sector 38 from paying commercial tax.
On the other hand, the BJP councillors say they will oppose the imposition of house tax tooth and nail and will also hold a protest.
BJP councillor Davesh Moudgil said, "The Congress is trying its best to impose house tax, but we will not allow this to happen and will oppose it."
Another BJP councillor Saurabh Joshi said, "Chandigarh has surplus funds and there is no need to impose house tax. Residents have not really 'benefited from projects under the JNNURM. Even at places where pipes for treated water have been laid, the supply is not sufficient. Till the residents are satisfied with the projects, there is no question of more taxes being imposed."
The UT administration has directed the MC to impose house tax, failing which huge central funds available under the JNNRUM for several projects would not be available to the corporation.
In several letters, the UT administration has stated that house tax should be imposed under Section 19 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976. The letter further stated that the house tax would generate more revenue for their departments rather than depending on the grants sanctioned by the administration.
The MC has also signed an MoU with the ministry of urban development under the Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission that it will impose house tax to raise funds.