Even as the financial health of the civic body recovers after battling a downturn for years, municipal commissioner Subodh Kumar is set to instill discipline in the way the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) spends taxpayers’ money.
While presenting his maiden budget, Kumar made it clear that he would cut down unnecessary costs that make a dent on the civic coffers as well as allocations to grand, unrealistic projects.
He insisted that cost escalations of projects (increasing cost of the project after the construction is taken up), which have become a routine in the civic body, should be avoided; making a special reference to undesirable cost escalations of projects under the Brimstowad and the Mithi widening. The state government has already started an inquiry into the increase in cost of projects in the past few years.
He also avoided making provisions for new projects and instead intends to complete ongoing projects first.
“I have tried to provide higher provision for incomplete works so as to secure full benefits of the expenditure already incurred,” Kumar added.
To keep the finances on track by augmenting revenue, Kumar proposed increasing water and sewage taxes in the future and also identifying new sources of revenue generation.
The BMC’s financial condition has stabilised after the revenue generated by its departments exceeded the administration’s estimates.
“We are trying to tighten and improve the tax collection machinery. Efforts are being made to consolidate the establishment cost,” said Kumar
The BMC expects revenue of Rs11,501 crore from its major sources like octroi and property tax.
They have also decided to withdraw the exemption of octroi on imports of all types of diamonds while reducing the rate of octroi from the current 2% to 0.01%. This move will earn the BMC Rs9 crore.
Due to the surplus in the estimates, the BMC, which was asking permission from the state government since the last few years to get an internal loan Rs3000 crore sanctioned, has said that it will not require the loan for the year 2011-2012.
However, the commissioner also pointed out that the civic body's establishment expenditure was estimated to increase to 60% in the next fiscal, as it will have to pay more due to revision of salaries on the basis of the 6th pay commission recommendations, further straining the BMC's budget.
“The surplus for 2011-12 is going to be much less which will seriously strain expenditure on infrastructure,” Kumar said.