Local bodies minister Anil Joshi and Amritsar mayor Bakshi Ram Arora on Saturday took different positions on the issue of fund crunch the municipal corporation has been grappling with of late.While on the one hand, the minister stressed that there was no paucity of funds in the municipal corporation, the mayor on the other maintained that the civic body’s financial condition was weak and it urgently needed assistance in the form of a package.
The local bodies minister while answering a query about fund crunch in the MC during a press conference said, “The MC had taken rs 48 crore loan from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and the money is lying unspent. I have requested the mayor several times but he is not spending the money. I don’t know why. I request him again to spend the money for development works.”
Maintaining that the minister was not much informed on the matter, the mayor responded, “I think mantriji (minister) is not aware of the facts. The money from HUDCO loan has been used for development works in various wards in the past.
Already, development works of around rs 30 crore have been approved and once completed the bills of all these works will be cleared through HUDCO loans.”
“`11 lakh was earmarked for each ward first and later rs30 lakh was earmarked each. All the money for this will be spent from HUDCO loan itself. Work orders have also been issued,” he further claimed.
On yet another question, the mayor said, “The money is with HUDCO. As soon as we submit the bills, they (HUDCO) release the amount. I have already written to them about the development works we have approved and once the contractor submits the bill, HUDCO will release the money.”
The MC had taken the loan from HUDCO before the parliamentary elections early this year for development works in the city.
The minister said the municipal corporation should improve its tax collections and it faced no paucity of funds. The mayor termed the civic body’s financial position as weak, adding that they had sent repeated reminders to the state government for an assistance package, but to no avail.
The mayor, a senior BJP leader, said, “The monthly expenditure of the municipal corporation is about `13 crore whereas the income is about rs9 crore. We are facing loss every month. It even becomes difficult for us to give salaries to employees at times.”
“I would request the Punjab government and the minister (Joshi) to focus on the issue,” he further said.
The mayor also claimed that the MC is yet to receive the property tax collection for 2014-15. Moreover, the MC’s income from VAT has also come down in the past few months, he added.