Talking on ‘financing city infrastructure’, panelists emphasised on the need to change taxing pattern, evolve participatory budgeting and take firm decisions to complete infra-projects on time. Tover Da Silva Nunes, Brazilian Ambassador to India, said that Brazil had moved to a decentralised taxing system and autonomy had been given to the cities slowly.
“Participatory budgeting is also important for the city’s finances. We have to tax people and collect money. So, one should know how the money is being spent,” said Tovar, who was speaking at the session organised as part of the BRICS cities conclave 2016 on Saturday.
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Pune Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar said that it was time to change the current rigid taxing system.
“We should move to a system in which there is less dependence on taxes and more on user charges,” said Kumar, adding that the government also should come out with a law to make fiscal rate management mandatory.
“The profession and entertainment taxes go directly to the state government and the municipal corporations don’t get any share of it. It can be devolved,” said Kumar, adding that one should look at PPP for skill development, rather than only at financing.
Talking about the difficulties in completing projects, he said, “A fair amount of harsh decisions need to be taken. It is difficult in our political set-up but necessary to complete infra-projects on time.”
Mbanga Shitole, chief executive officer, South African Cities Network, representing South African Local Government Association, also emphasised on the need to strengthen local governments and think about pool financing between BRICS countries.
In another session titled ‘building sustainable cities to improve delivery of urban services’, Ajit Kumar Jain, a retired IAS officer, talked about the need of planning water supply, after consulting residents.
“At present, there is no law that makes it mandatory to reduce water loss. So municipal by-laws are required,” said Jain.