UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki has directed the officers of Chandigarh administration not to transfer any department or give more powers to the municipal corporation until it imposes the enhanced house tax.
The decision was taken after the meeting of city mayor Poonam Sharma, deputy mayor Gurbax Rawat and opposition leader in MC Arun Sood on April 1, where they demanded that the house tax could not be revised unless 74th constitutional amendment, which gives more powers and functions to MC, is implemented.
But, the administrator has directed the UT officers not to initiate any further action in this regard unless and until, MC imposes the revised house tax as suggested by the UT administration several times.
A senior officer of UT administration told HT, that the decision has already been communicated to elected representatives and the ball is in their court now. They have been demanding more powers and departments from the UT, but not revising the house tax. Also the imposition of house tax at a rate of Rs 1 per square yard per annum, which was imposed during former mayor Subhash Chawla's tenure in 2013, is lowest in the country and does not mean anything, officers said.
Speaking to HT, mayor Poonam Sharma said, "We and my Congress councillors are always for the development of the city, but first the administration should give us our due share of revenue as recommended by the Delhi Finance Commission. Also, they should transfer some big projects to MC and if we are short of funds, we will consider revising the house tax."
The UT administration had earlier proposed to increase the house tax from Rs 1 per square yard to Rs 10 per square yard. The UT has asked the MC several times to impose the house tax on the pattern of the property tax, implementation of which means residents will have to shell out around 10 times more tax than they are paying.
Former mayor Subhash Chawla said, till date, the UT administration had not even implemented the 74th amendment of the Constitution, according to which the MC should be given the revenue share of 28% instead of the current share of 17%. "Most of the departments, including animal husbandry, primary health and education have not bee transferred to the civic body completely. Moreover, the recommendations made by the fourth finance commission are not also implemented. So, once these conditions are fulfilled, we don't have no probem in revising the house tax," Chawla said,
In October last, the MC House had outrightly rejected the proposal stating that as per the Punjab Municipal Act extended to the UT, the administration could impose a new tax but couldn't revise the existing tax.
The administration had notified the house tax at the rate of Rs 1 per square yard for houses covering an area of 125 square yards or more, in Chandigarh in 2013. The houses having the plot area less than 125 square yards, houses of people belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS), low income groups (LIG) category and villages within the MC limit, were exempted from the tax.