The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) plan to improve the ease of doing business in Mumbai has hit a roadblock; municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta has disbanded the civic body’s Business Development Cell, launched with much fanfare last October. The plan was to rope in experts who would suggest ways to make it easier for firms to conduct business. The BMC hired 10 consultants for the task, but Mehta feels the job would be better handled by BMC officers.
The 10 consultants – comprising a chief officer, three deputies and five managers – were given two-year contracts. Their contracts will now be terminated, according to a BMC source.
The cell was set up following a World Bank report on ease of doing business, in which Mumbai ranked poorly.
The purpose of the cell was to identify ‘infrastructure gaps’ at growing business centres, and to plan and coordinate with government agencies to improve the ease of doing business.
A source in the BMC said Mehta was not impressed with cell’s functioning. In fact, the commissioner hadn’t interacted with anyone from the cell in the past month, the source added.
In his order to disband it, Mehta said the cell was not serving any purpose. He now wants it staffed by civic officers. The may even expand the cell.
Mehta said, “We have not closed the cell. We have only given in-house staff the responsibility of handling it. Our officers are more knowledgeable and have worked at ground level. They will do a better job.”
The decision comes soon after Mehta’s move to terminate the services of officers on special duty (OSD) who were not regular municipal staffers but appointed by various civic departments. Recently, Mehta issued a circular to all BMC departments to terminate the contracts of all OSDs and give preference to full-time employees. A Right to Information (RTI) application revealed that the BMC has spent Rs 1.64 crore on OSDs in the past five years.
* Mehta has ordered that the current Business Development Cell be disbanded. The two-year contracts of its 10 members will soon be terminated.
* The civic chief said BMC officers can do a better job. But his order could cause delays as new members are yet to be hired and will need time to understand the cell’s functioning once they are.
* The cell was set up in October 2014 after the World Bank’s ease of doing business index ranked Mumbai a lowly 134th.
* The main purpose of the cell is to work towards a single-window clearance system for things like construction permits and licences. Another goal is the launch of a ‘Branding Mumbai’ exercise to strengthen the status of Mumbai as an international business hub.