No big projects, new taxes in BMC budget

The civic budget for 2013-14 has no grand projects to make Mumbai a better city, but the one thing going for it is that it will not pinch your pockets.

The BrihanMumbai Muni-cipal Corporation (BMC) has not hiked existing taxes or imposed new ones. For Mumbaiites who have to pay higher property taxes, this will be a big relief.

Budgetary promises range from relieving the city of ugly banners to improving water supply and roads.

Civic chief Sitaram Kunte, who presented the budget to the standing committee on Monday, is focusing on reforms aimed at improving the delivery of civic services. HT had reported how this was likely to be the case.

The single-minded focus on reforms and lack of new projects are a concern. The budget outlay has risen to Rs27,578 crore from Rs26,580 crore in 2012-13, a rise of less than 4% compared to the 26% rise in last year’s outlay. Capital expenditure, an indication of new initiatives, is up by just Rs10 crore.

The big change anticipated is the abolishment of octroi by October; it is to be replaced with the local body tax (LBT). Octroi was levied on the import of new products or raw materials into the city after physical inspection. LBT, instead, will depend on self-declaration by traders. Sources said this change is unlikely to impact Mumbaiites.

Kunte said: “There are already major projects planned. So the emphasis is on providing good-quality services by improving the existing mechanism.”


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