High charges may not go well with BMC
THE TOUGH conditions, including the rationalisation of taxes for the implementation of the basic amenities schemes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) may not be acceptable to the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) elected representatives. For, it will see steep hike in taxes ? something the corporation fears may not be taken kindly by the citizens.india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 01:03 IST
THE TOUGH conditions, including the rationalisation of taxes for the implementation of the basic amenities schemes under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) may not be acceptable to the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) elected representatives. For, it will see steep hike in taxes – something the corporation fears may not be taken kindly by the citizens.
Aware that the implementation of the scheme will generate a lot of heat, even the BMC elected representatives would not like to push it.
For example, the water tax can go up to 10 times more than the present rate of Rs 60 per month, if rationalised according to the scheme conditions. The conditions are almost the same as for most of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded projects.
The JNNURM entails rationalisation of user charges like cess on water supply and other such taxes at the BMC-level. The rationalisation of user charges is one of the mandatory reforms to be undertaken before the implementation of JNNURM.
At present, the BMC spends about Rs 45 crore on water supply against the total water tax collection of Rs 12-14 crore. The BMC realises Rs 60 per connection per month from the domestic water tap connection holders.
Politicians believe that it would not possible for any elected body to increase user charges for water supply to the extent desired by conditionalites.
During 2004, the BMC administration was forced to reduce the water tax to Rs 60 from Rs 150 on the State Government directives.
However, the BMC officials believe that another mandatory reform at the State-level could sort out this problem. Under this mandatory reform, the State Government will have to introduce independent regulators for urban services. Through such regulators, the rationalisation of user charges could be implemented.
Mayor Sunil Sood, however, said that there would be no problem in implementing the reforms. The reforms like modern accrual-based double entry system and e-governance are already underway. On the other hand, the State Government has initiated efforts and formed a committee for the implementation of the scheme, he added.
Says BMC chairman Ramdayal Prajapati, “These schemes would only prove an investment in the infrastructure without any returns. How will the BMC be able to return the loan amount or arrange its share of 30 per cent in case of JNNURM, he asked. Prajapati also said that there is no way to support the hike in tax.
The officials said conditions are almost same for the funded projects. These reforms would make the BMC enable for these projects, they said.
“Definitely, the local bodies implementing these schemes will have to meter the water supply and realise the rationalised fee for the services. The institutions like ADB are more worried about capacity building of such bodies so that they easily get the loan,” said a senior BMC official.
First Published: Jan 12, 2006 01:03 IST