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PMC’s 30% cut in elected members’ budget draws opposition

PUNE: Pune municipal commissioner Vikram Kumar on Friday said that the civic body is in poor financial condition as factors like seventh pay commission, hike in fuel and electricity charges have shot up the annual revenue expenditure by Rs1,200 crore in a year
By Abhay Khairnar
PUBLISHED ON JUN 18, 2021 09:11 PM IST

PUNE: Pune municipal commissioner Vikram Kumar on Friday said that the civic body is in poor financial condition as factors like seventh pay commission, hike in fuel and electricity charges have shot up the annual revenue expenditure by Rs1,200 crore in a year.

The commissioner has introduced a 30 per cent cut in works suggested by the elected members to strengthen the financial position of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). However, the public representatives across all party lines have opposed the proposal put forward by the revenue committee. They sought clarification from the municipal commissioner over the issue at the general body meeting.

Kumar said, “The municipal corporation’s revenue dropped due to the Covid pandemic. Last year in 2020-21, we generated Rs4,170 crore revenue and expect the figure to touch around Rs5,600 crore this year (2021-22). The revenue generated depends on various proposals cited to increase income. The revenue expenditure increased from Rs3,100 crore in previous year to Rs4,300 crore this year.”

According to the civic chief, the total growth in revenue expenditure would be Rs1,200 crore because of rise in fuel (petrol, diesel) prices and electricity rates. “Even the implementation of the seventh pay commission to staff will also add to the expenditure part. Hence, after considering these factors, hardly Rs1,400 crore would remain for carrying out development works,” he said.

“If we do not introduce cuts to the works suggested by the elected members and approve the tenders, the municipal corporation would not have money to pay the bills and it would an additional burden on the next financial year,” Kumar said.

Pune mayor Murlidhar Mohol said, “All elected members are unhappy with the administration’s decision to introduce cut only in elected members’ budget. We will hold a separate meeting with all party leaders and the civic administration at the mayor’s office and chalk out a plan.”

One of the office-bearers on anonymity said that most of the elected members have proposed ward-level works. “Many of the proposals are unnecessary like renovating footpaths or making roads and sewage works. Same roads are dug up repeatedly and footpaths are unnecessarily getting renovated,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Subhash Jagtap of NCP said, “It shows how the ruling BJP has poorly run the economy of the municipal corporation in the last four years despite getting a clear majority.”

Aba Bagul (Congress) said, “It is unjustified that taxpayers’ Rs4,300 crore should be spend only on revenue work and no fund available for development works suggested by the elected members. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the administration spent money on works without informing the elected members.”

BJP’s leader of the House Ganesh Bidkar said that despite the pandemic, PMC collected record property tax last year and even allowed the elected members to spend their ward development fund. “Almost Rs350 crore was spent by elected members in just last two months from ward development funds in last financial year. Pandemic is an unprecedented situation and led to financial crisis. The commissioner will place the facts before elected members,” he said.

Prithviraj Sutar (Shiv Sena) said, “Without informing any committee or elected members, the administration approved the tender for sewage works in 11 villages. We do not oppose development projects, but demand transparency in budget allocation.”

Mohol said, “The administration and elected members both are important. Elected members suggest works as per citizens’ demand and to develop their areas. Instead of introducing cuts, we would discuss the issue with party leaders and reach an amicable solution.”.

Arvind Shinde (Congress), “It was mandatory for the administration to put all proposals before the elected members before approving it during the Covid times. In the name of pandemic, the administration behaved like a superior and approved tenders without informing the elected members.”

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