For the first time since the introduction of property tax in the city in 2004, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) increased by 10%.
The decision, which was made at the House’s monthly meeting on Wednesday, applies only to commercial establishments. Even if Congressional advisers opposed it, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – which is mostly – approved the agenda.
The Civic Corps began charging a property tax on commercial land and buildings as of November 22, 2004. There are approximately 23,000 commercial units under the MC limits. The tax varies between Rs 3 and Rs 20 per square foot, depending on the area in which the property falls.
There are four areas in the city. In 2013-14 and 2015-16 the property tax on land and residential buildings (called the property tax) was imposed. It is not loaded on properties that have a covered area of less than 500 square feet. There will be no increase in this tax.
During the House meeting, City Commissioner B Purushartha admitted that the financial situation of the civic body was in poor condition. “Although we have approved so many issues in the program in the past, we do not have money to complete the projects,” he said.
Purushartha told the House that although the MC has an approved budget of Rs 1,000 crore, the UT administration has given it only Rs 265 crore. The civic body only generates Rs 125 crore from its own sources of income, while it has to pay Rs 300 crore as salary to its employees, he said.
“We were only Rs 90 crore,” said the head of the MC, while justifying the need to increase the property tax. “If we do not create new ways of generating income, we will not be able to carry out development work.”
Road reconversion, repair and renovation of community centers, improved water supply and sanitation, and maintenance of green belts and parks are areas where the cries of the fund are proving to be a major obstacle.
At present, in addition to property taxes, MC’s main sources of income are paid parking spaces, cable operator rentals, taxi centers, community centers, nightclubs, underground stores, restaurants and alcoholic beverages, seizure auctions, festival fees and rickshaw license fees.
Congress blocked the civic corps led by the BJP for its inability to generate income from MC properties worth more than Rs 200 crore, which are vacant and charge the common man.
“Madam, people will remember you as mayor-prosecutor-wali,” Congressman Devinder Singh Babla told Mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal. Babla said that Chandigarh is not a city owner and that the MC has not harvested more than Rs 12 Crore from the water bill defaults.
“Employers are already suffering losses due to the tax on goods and services (GST),” he said. The unrestricted allocation of booths in Sector 17-22 metro also resulted in a loss of about Rs 8 crore to civic in the last 10 years.
Vivek Pratap Singh, head of the MC, had established a committee in August 2014 to define a policy of post allocation, but things had not been adopted. Now MC plans to make an offer.