Reluctant to upset voters ahead of the municipal polls in January, the BMC is dragging its feet on enforcing the new property tax system.
This is likely to cost the municipal corporation about Rs 700 crore in revenue, which may affect civic projects such as roads, subways and dispensaries. With only four weeks before the pre-election code of conduct comes into force, meanwhile, time is running out and the delay tactics continue.
Last week, the civic standing committee had presented some queries about the total properties existing in the city. On Wednesday, as the administration was ready with presentation, the committee members halted it, citing the insignificant reason that part of it was in English.
Various corporators, meanwhile, have offered a bouquet of excuses for the delay.
“Our objection is that with no additional services the civic body has planned to increase property tax,” said Sameer Desai, Congress corporator and member of the standing committee.
“The proposal will be cleared once the committee members are satisfied with administration’s reply on various queries raised by them,” added Shiv Sena corporator Rahul Shewale, chairman of the civic standing committee.
Additional municipal commissioner Rajiv Jalota, meanwhile, confirmed that the delay would affect revenues, though he declined to comment on the exact sum at stake.
“We have not calculated the shortfall yet. Due to pending property tax policy, we could not issue revised bills to all properties in the city and also not been charging newly constructed buildings which has come up after April 2010,” he said.
Though political parties are keen to score brownie points by not enforcing the new system before the elections, there will be no escape for citizens, who will instead be burdened with higher dues in the form of arrears, since the new rates — when they are eventually enforced — will be charged with retrospective effect.
“The delay in implementation is because of lack of political will. Politicians thinks the increase in property tax in the island city will be burden their voters,” said a civic official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “But once the new system comes into force, we will adjust outstanding dues.”