Following its amnesty scheme for property tax defaulters, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) proposal to hike property tax by 11 per cent to increase revenue for the next fiscal year, has received opposition from regular taxpayers, with political parties too likely to oppose the move ahead of the civic polls next year.
As per the proposal tabled in the standing committee, the hike in property tax by 11 percent for 2021-22 would increase the revenue collection by Rs 130 crore in the next financial year and help with the expenditure to carry out development of basic facilities in the recently merged 23 villages in the civic jurisdiction.
The hike will be 5.5 percent in general tax, 3.5 percent in cleanliness tax and 2 percent in the water tax, in addition to a 5 percent increase in water charges.
The elected representatives had rejected the proposal to hike the tax for the current fiscal year, and would be cautious over taking a stand on the proposal for 2021-22, considering the fact that the PMC would be going to polls in the next financial year. “The standing committee has not taken any decision and would be discussing it in the special general body meeting,” said Hemant Rasane, chairperson of the standing committee.
“The proposed hike in property tax would burden the regular taxpayers, while the civic body is implementing a tax amnesty scheme of 75 percent discount in the fine for defaulters of property tax,” said Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch. He said the PMC waived off fines up to Rs 175 crore to recover Rs 370 crore of property tax dues from defaulters, having pending dues of less than Rs 50 lakh, in the last three months. However, he said there seem to be no efforts to recover dues of Rs 1,218 crore from 474 defaulters. “It is wrong to punish regular taxpayers with a hike, while providing relief to defaulters through an amnesty scheme,” Velankar said.
“The PMC says its budget income will increase by the hike, and will help with its efforts to develop 23 newly merged villages. It goes without saying that any funds for development of the merged villages must come from the state government and citizens should not be burdened with this,” said Qaneez Sukhrani of Nagrik Chetna Manch.
She said the proposal should be rejected so that citizens who have lost their livelihoods are not burdened. She added the PMC should do a thorough audit and introspect on the areas where it is falling short and provide basic minimal service to citizens, and citizens would not object to paying hiked taxes. “There are many resources from where the PMC can generate revenue without burdening taxpayers,” Sukhrani said.
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