Eyes on JNNURM pie, IMC forgets budget
IN ITS eagerness to grab a chunk of the Centre’s Rs 50,000 crore urban renewal pie, the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) seems to have forgotten entirely about the 2006-07 budget!
With just over a week to go for March 31, the IMC administration is yet to submit a budgetary estimate for the forthcoming fiscal.
The delay places the Corporation in direct violation of the MP Municipal Corporation Act, 1956. Furthermore, if, as seems almost certain now, the budget is not presented by March 31 ambiguity regarding tax rates, rebates etc also threatens to hurt revenue receipts in the next fiscal.
Surprisingly, neither Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma nor Commissioner Vinod Sharma seem overly concerned about the lag. Indeed, given the duo’s recent shuttling between Delhi and Indore, they appear more interested in pushing through Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) proposals than preparing a roadmap for the next fiscal.
And with the Commissioner scheduled to take part in another Mission meet to be held in Delhi on March 27, it seems a safe bet to say that the budget will not be tabled anytime before Mid-April
Section 97 (1) of the Municipal Corporation Act directs the Commissioner to prepare and submit budgetary estimates detailing anticipated expenses and income to the Mayor-in-Council “on or before the 30th day of November”.
The MiC, in turn, is mandated to forward the estimate to the general council after making whatever modifications it deems fit by January 15 with the revised budget to be adopted by March 31 and copies forwarded to the
State Government (Sections 97 (2) and 98).
The Act further states that in case final adoption does not take place by March 31, the budgetary estimates would be deemed to be the approved budget.
However, the Act is silent on what would happen if no budgetary estimates have been prepared as has happened at IMC. Others, though, are more vocal. “Budgetary delays will hit revenue receipts badly. In the absence of fresh rates it will be impossible to determine either taxes or rebates”, pointed out a retired IMC official. The same thing has been happening for the last two years but the Corporation refuses to learn any lessons, he added.
What the leaders say
MAYOR DR Uma Shashi Sharma said, “Budgetary estimates will be taken up by the Mayor-in-Council on April 1 and we expect to table the final budget by April 15. The delay in submitting estimates happened because the new Commissioner, Vinod Sharma, needed time to grasp proposals formulated by his predecessor (P Narhari). The JNNURM proposals also took up our attention thus further delaying budgetary proceedings”.
Municipal Commissioner Vinod Sharma said, “We have forwarded the budgetary estimates to the Mayor-in-Council today”. Leader of the Opposition in the IMC, Suresh Minda, said, “The Congress corporators’ group has repeatedly urged the Mayor to ensure that the budget is finalised before March 31.
Any delay will not only harm the Corporation in the forthcoming fiscal year but also provide lazy officials with a handy excuse for not doing their job. Unfortunately, instead of focussing on the budget both the Mayor and Commissioner are busy with JNNURM proposals”.