No hike in civic taxes and Rs 600 crore on dolling up the city. Welcome to the election year.
The 2009-2010 budget of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), of which Hindustan Times has exclusive details, is expected be a cosmetic budget, something aimed at making Mumbaiites feel good.
With no new taxes or hikes in present tax rates and with a thrust on beautification and security, the civic budget, which will be presented by Municipal Commissioner Jairaj Phatak to the civic standing committee on February 3, is aimed at placating a city in a year that will see both parliamentary and assembly elections.
“There will be no additional burden on taxpayers, considering that recession has already put a burden on them,” said Standing Committee Chairman Ravindra Waikar.
The BMC is likely to spend Rs 600 crore on ‘showcase’ and beautification projects such as the wax museum, Mumbai Eye, seven theme gardens, street furniture, an arts and crafts centre at Worli and walking tracks along seafronts.
Improving infrastructure is also a priority. Sources said over Rs 2,000 crore has been allocated to improve water supply and over Rs 1,500 crore for road makeovers and parking.
Also on the agenda are upgradation of health services and security, especially after the 26/11 terror attacks.
The civic budget is expected to be around Rs 17,000 crore, not dramatically higher than the 2008-2009 budget, which was Rs 16,792 crore.
Despite the slowdown, the BMC is not in the red and will have a budget surplus of Rs 40-Rs 50 lakh, said sources. “In fact, we have done well and will be in surplus,” said Waikar.
The high octroi and property tax collections, up to 85 per cent of projections, helped the municipal corporation come up with a no-new-taxes budget, said a senior BMC officer, requesting anonymity.