Experts on Saturday said that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s promise to waive property tax from residential properties if AAP was voted to power in the April 23 municipal polls cannot be implemented. That is unless an amendment is made in the Delhi Municipal Act, 1957.
Property tax is one of the main sources of revenue for the three municipal corporations in city. The amount collected is used for paying salary, pensions and other development works in various areas.
“It is not possible to waive property tax from residential properties unless an amendment is made in the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, which can be done in the Parliament only,” said KS Mehra, former commissioner of unified MCD.
Till December 2016, the three municipal corporations have collected Rs 1,371 crore as property tax. The amount has been collected from 10.32 lakhs commercial and residential properties in Delhi.
MCD officials said that the civic bodies are already facing a cash crunch and implementing such a promise would spell more trouble. In January, around 15,000 sanitation workers in south and east Delhi had called a strike for non-payment of salaries. The civic bodies have been constantly trying to bring more and more people under the tax ambit though various schemes to increase the number of tax payers.
“The corporations are already not getting their due from the government on time. If property tax is waived off, where will we get the money to cover our expenses? The decision will cripple the corporations,” said VP Pandey, leader of house, North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
As per officials of the total property tax collected by the civic bodies, about 35% is property tax from residential properties. “In the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, it is mentioned that the amount can be collected from any land/building falling in jurisdiction of MCD and that’s why we claim taxes from unauthorised colonies as well, despite the councillors repeated demand to waive it,” said a senior MCD official.
Other political parties too criticised Kejriwal’s proposal with Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Ajay Maken saying that the AAP is just making tall promises with no intention of fulfilling them.
“Where is free Wi-Fi, marshals in DTC buses, 5 lakh toilets and other pre-poll promises made by the Aam Aadmi Party in its election manifesto? In the last two years, the AAP government’s performance in every field, including fiscal management, has been dismal”, he said.
The results will be out on April 26. Delhi BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana accused Kejriwal of not having adequate knowledge of functioning of municipal corporations.
“This is not the first time Kejriwal is promising things which are not in his hands. Today, he promised that he will abolish property tax from residential properties. But he should know that he cannot abolish housing tax under section 113A of DMC act as it is mandatory,” he said.
Elections to 272 wards in three municipal corporations are scheduled to be held on April 23.