Amid walkout by all four Congress councillors in the 65-member-house,the General House of Amritsar Municipal Corporation Wednesday passed its Rs 300 crore budget for 2013-14. Congress councillors called the budget a flop budget and expressed that money reserved for development works was too little. Around Rs 230 crore has been earmarked for civic body expenses and nearly Rs 70 crore has been reserved for development works.
Around Rs 180 crore of the civic expense budget will go towards paying salaries and expenses incurred on MC employees. Congress councillors rued that as per government guidelines,20 percent should be reserved under civic expense category,75 percent for development fund and five percent for contingency.
As per the 2013-14 budget,60 percent of the budget has been earmarked for salaries,36 percent for development works and four percent for contingency.
The budget also proposed to mop up Rs 60 crore from property tax and Rs 45 crore by selling MC land, and spend the money on development works. Congress councillors raised objections over property tax stating that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had said that decision on property tax would be reviewed.
The Congress councillors then staged a walkout after verbal altercations with ruling members.
Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora also came under attack from SAD-BJP members who alleged manipulations and malpractices in and outside the civic body.
Akali councillor Ravinder Singh Sultanwind lamented that sometimes the issues decided in the general house were altered outside the house.
Meanwhile,BJP councillor Rajesh Honey said unscrupulous agents had mushroomed in the Birth and Death Department of MC and were minting money to issue certificates. He also added that the civic body was losing revenue due to absence of an advertisement policy.
Reacting to the allegations by SAD-BJP members,Arora said,I have noted all the grievances raised by councillors. All allegations will be inquired into.
Other issues raised by ruling councillors were poor arrangement to pick-up waste,dominance of bureaucracy in MC and inadequate staff to do cleanliness work.
The salary of councillors cannot be decreased. Can Congress councillors tell if it is possible to decrease the salaries of the employees, said Mayor Bakshi Ram Arora after the budget meeting,justifying 60 percent expense on salaries.
Arora said,House tax collections in our tenure are better than what were when Congress ruled the house. The house tax collections in 2006-07 was Rs 7 crore as against Rs 18 crore collected by us.
It is due to such wrong attitude of the Congress that there are now only four councillors of the party in 65 member house.