In a bid to generate revenue to bring the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation out of financial deficit, officials are considering to audit the expenses– including consumption of electricity and manpower– on commercial properties lying locked across Chandigarh and particularly in Sector 17, and allow private companies to use the vacant government spaces.
A seven-member committee constituted to find ways to generate revenue for tackling the financial deficit, said that there are many ways to generate revenue, including by involving general public on the basis of public-private partnership (PPP). As many as four members of the committee are BJP councillors, one is from Congress and two are senior MC officials.
The only member in the committee from the opposition, Congress councillor Satish Kainth said, “I will suggest best methods to generate revenue for the MC, but the civic body should accept and follow these methods. A detailed discussion regarding tackling of the MC’s financial deficit took place in 2017 as well, involving all the councillors. Many valuables suggestions were given. Administrator VP Singh Badnore had given his approval on some suggestions such as charging fee from multiplex and cinema halls for running advertisements after and before the showtime. However, these suggestions were not implemented. Our bureaucracy is in the MC on the middle level and the lower level cannot do the work. There are many tubewells covering huge spaces, we can utilise these spaces for commercial purposes and earn revenue. There should be a will to do something, which is missing.”
Kainth also took a dig at the ruling BJP leadership, claiming that since the MC has gone in the hands of BJP, the civic body has been incurring financial losses.
BJP Councillor Arun Sood, who is also the state president of Chandigarh BJP, said, “There are countless commercial properties, including shops laying shut in the posh commercial areas, Sector 17, and other sectors. We will have to make changes in the rules to utilise these properties. I strongly advocate the strict audit of expenditure, power, petrol and manpower. I personally feel, we can save a lot after ascertaining the areas where money is being spent uselessly.”
Councillor Davesh Moudgil said, “By adopting public private partnership in several commercial projects, we can earn a lot of revenue. We will have to change the laws. Booths lying closed in Mauli Jagran, Sector 17 and other markets can be auctioned. There is a rule that reserved prices can only be reduced after two-three auctions. By changing the rules, we can auction these shops earlier. These properties are white elephant in Chandigarh.”
Other members of the committee are officials Anil Kumar Dubey and Rajesh Kalia, chief accounts officer Gulshan Mehta and additional commissioner Anil Kumar Garg. The committee is scheduled to meet on July 7.
Nobody wants cut on gadgets, salary etc
However, no one was ready to speak on the reduction of money being spent on the costly smart cell phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets. Councillor Arun Sood, who is also former Mayor, said, “Money being spend on smart cell phones being given to the councillors is nothing before the other alternatives to save the expenditure and generate more revenue. If you think, with spending less money on the gadgets including cell phones etc, we will improve the financial condition than, you are wrong.” Davesh Moudgil, another committee member and councillor, when asked about the option of salary cuts, he replied, “We in the welfare nature of service. We are in the service of profit earning. Everybody has to raise his/her family. I am strongly against the idea of salary cuts etc for improving the financial condition of MC. The crisis came due to the global pandemic, COVID-19. Every country is facing financial losses.”
In January, the cash starved Municipal Corporation had approved unopposed two agendas including either swanky cars along with drivers with 250ltr fuel every month for Deputy Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and 100 ltr fuel for every MC councillors or only 250ltr fuel for Deputy Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor, and 100 ltr for the councillors every month.
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