Continuing with the declining trend,reflective of the civic bodys poor fiscal state,the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation on Saturday passed an interim budget of Rs 630.98 crore,the lowest such in three years. It has also fallen way short of the Rs 1000 cr estimate that the Mayor had proposed a few days ago.
The MC budget was Rs 741.25 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 801 crore in 2011-12.
This year,while Rs 440.18 crore has been proposed for the general branch,around Rs 190.80 crore has been set aside for the MCs Operations & Maintenance cell. It is,however,the first time that that the column for house tax recovery has been left blank in the budget as the civic body is now working on implementing property tax from April 1. The MC had expected a whopping Rs 90 crore from house tax recovery.
Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria,meanwhile,stressed on the interim nature of the budget. Addressing the House,he said: The House is requested to note that this is only the interim budget in which income expected from property tax is not included as values are yet to be finalised. After they are finalised,another budget session will be held,where the final figures will be presented.
There was,however,an uproar in the House on Saturday after the Mayor refused to let Congress councillors speak during the session. He hurriedly announced that the budget had been passed and left the hall leaving the Congress councillors fuming even as SADs main alliance partner,the BJP,was playing the role of the Opposition. It is a complete murder of democracy. The Opposition was not even allowed to raise objections and the Mayor,assuming things,declared the budget passed, said Gurpreet Singh Gogi,a Congress councillor.
The BJP councillors,on the hand,sought answers on various issues. In 2012-13,the MC had targetted an income of Rs 741 crore,while we have been able to achieve only Rs 555 crore. I would like to know why there is a difference of 24 per cent?, asked Inder Aggarwal,a BJP councillor.
Responding to the query,the Mayor said: It is not always necessary and possible to achieve the exact proposed target. MC commissioner R K Verma,giving reasons,added: One of the MC properties worth Rs 100 crore could not be auctioned off due to a court stay. Also development charges and liabilities off Rs 220 crore have affected income.
Aggarwal then wanted to know as to how the civic body was going to repay proposed loans of Rs 100 crore from a bank and Rs 2,000 crore from HUDCO. Even at bare minimum,the MC will have to pat at least Rs 20 crore as instalment every month. How will that be achieved? Aggarwal asked. Commissioner Verma,replying,said,HUDCO loan has a repayment period of 15 years and the MC will not have to pay more than 50 crore per year.
It was here that things went awry when another BJP councillor,Gurdip Singh Nitu,wanted to know if the MC was getting less revenue from advertisements as opposed to the citys potential. Just as he was raising more queries,the Mayor,not considering it necessary to answer these questions declared that the session had ended,much to the chagrin of the Congressmen.