March 16, 2021 3:34:09 am
NO INCREASE in tax rates, no new levies, proposals to develop two new sports complexes, fire stations, health centres, addition of 100 electric buses to the fleet of city bus service, and making the cycle-sharing project a pan-city service were among the highlights of the Rs 2,275-crore budget of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) for 2021-22 that was submitted Monday by civic commissioner Udit Agrawal to the Standing Committee.
The size of the budget for the upcoming fiscal is Rs 143 crore more than the current year’s original budget estimates of Rs 2,132 crore and Rs 771 crore higher than its revised estimates.
At press conference, after presenting the budget to the civic body’s Standing Committee chairman Pushkar Patel, the municipal commissioner said the focus of the budget was on better implementation and enforcement.
He said as people are coming out of a Covid-19 lockdown, which had put the Indian economy in a recession, he has not proposed to hike taxes or introduce new levies. “Instead, the focus will be on aggressive recovery of tax arrears. As on date, around Rs 950 crore is overdue to RMC towards property tax. Of this, around Rs 350 crore is recoverable easily. To streamline the recovery, a property tax recovery cell will be set up,” Agarwal said.
The budget also proposes to keep the property tax rate unchanged at Rs 11 per square metre for residential properties and Rs 22 per sq m for non-residential premises.
“Currently, we are collecting Rs 840 annual water charge for domestic connections. Though revenue income generated through this tax covers only 14.41 per cent of revenue expenditure , we have decided to not increase the tax this year in view of the pandemic,” Agrawal said. Revenue expenditure under the head is estimated to remain Rs 315.44 crore, he said.
The budget also projects revenue expenditure of waterworks department at Rs 127 crore, solid waste management department at Rs 56.62 crore, sewage management department at Rs 29.30 crore, among others. The civic commissioner said tax collection target for 2021-22 has been set at Rs 340 crore, including the recovery of overdue taxes. “Our tax collection income will remain high as we have identified and added 8,000 new properties to the tax network,” Agrawal said.
To encourage tax compliance, Agarwal proposed to give 10 per cent rebate to those paying advance property tax by May-end and one per cent additional rebate to those who make the payments through digital transactions. The rebate will be 5 per cent if advance tax is paid in June. He proposed to continue the scheme of extending additional five per cent rebate to women property owners.
The RMC budget proposes to keep vehicle registration tax unchanged at one per cent of vehicles priced up to Rs 1 lakh, and two per cent of the value of vehicles priced above Rs 1 lakh. The revenue through this levy would is estimated to go up to Rs 19 core from the current year’s estimate of Rs 17 crore.
Agrawal has proposed to continue Rs 5,000 subsidy to residents purchasing electric vehicles and Rs 1,000 subsidy to those purchasing bicycles. “To reduce GHG emission, we are in the process of purchasing 50 electric buses by March end. In the next fiscal, we propose to add 100 e-buses to the fleet of Rajkot Mass Transport Limited,” he said. The budget also proposes two new urban health centres in the areas that have been merged into RMC limits recently.
The Standing Committee will study and review the budget proposals and then present it in the general board of the civic body.
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