By Vishwas Waghmode
The ruling Shiv Sena-BJP combine at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) appears set to cash in on a highly populist budget thats was presented on Wednesday by Civic Chief Sitaram Kunte.
Among the main highlights, all of which will make Mumbaikars very happy, is a decision against any hike in BEST bus fares this coming financial year, continuation of the Octroi regime to please the trader community hotly opposed to the contentious local body tax, flat-wise property tax bills for citizens, mobile application for fast civic services to citizens, provision of Rs 7,923 crore for providing services to urban poor with others. In addition, no new taxes have been introduced in the budget.
The total size of the budget estimates for 2014-15 is Rs 31,178 crore which is 27.72 percent higher than last year’s budget of Rs 27,578 crore. The budget of the civic body, believed to be the richest civic body in Asia, is larger than many small Indian state government budgets including Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Utttarakhad, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and others.
Reading out the budget estimate, Kunte said the rise in the outlays is mainly due to the ‘slightly higher than anticipated realisation of revenue income from the new source of premium against fungible floor space index (FSI)’. The premium is paid by builders to buy additional FSI.
Following the demand from the ruling Sena-BJP combine, no bus fare hike has been proposed this year, a first in BMC's history of 108 years.
The civic body has decided to extend various civic services to the urban poor and has allocated Rs 7,923 crore in the budget to improve the standards of civic services given to them. It also announced that a slum improvement cell will be created to deal with basis infrastructure and amenities in slums on lands owned by BMC, the government or private land. “The basis amenities provided in slums in Mumbai need to be upgraded to ensure hygienic conditions in slum colonies,” Kunte said justifying the move.
Interestingly, despite making an announcement of introducing the Local Body Tax (LBT) in place of Octroi in its last year’s budget speech, the civic body has decided to continue with Octroi. The was move aimed at not hurting the traders’ community, which has been continuously protesting against the introduction LBT. “The necessary amendment for LBT in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act did not take place. Thus, Octroi will remain in 2014-15,” said Kunte.
Citizen friendly initiatives announced in the budget include extending the services of citizen facilitation centres to 12 hours a day and on Sundays and holidays, providing flat-wise property tax bills and mobile applications for fast and hassle-free access of civic services.
For the first time, the civic body has prepared a master plan for three years with an aim to overcome the limitations in selection of roads for reconstruction and improvement. The plan will serve as a guideline for taking up roads in next three years. The civic body, which receives much flak from citizens for potholed roads, has made a provision of Rs 2,500 crore for reconstruction and improvement of roads in the city. Last year, the civic body had allocated Rs 1,545 crore for roads.
Highlights of the BMC budget for 2014-15
* The total size of the budget estimate for 2014-15 is Rs 31,178 crore which is 27.72 percent higher than last year’s budget of Rs 27578 crore.
* No hike in bus fares and no new taxes in this year.
* The civic body has decided to extend the various civic services to the urban poor and has allocated Rs 7,923 crore.
* The civic body has made a provision of Rs 2,500 crore for reconstruction and improvement of roads in city.
* Following the Babu Genu Market building collapse in which 60 people were killed, the civic body has made the provision of Rs 541.50 crore for structural repairs, demolition and reconstruction of the civic body owned buildings.
* The civic body has proposed to construct ladies public toilets at crowded areas in the city and has made provision of Rs 1 crore.
* It has proposed to develop two theme gardens- Sanyukta Maharashtra Memorial Garden in Lower Parel and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Garden in Lallubhai Park in Andheri (W).
* It has proposed to create a new department for business development to provide single window clearances attracting new investments in Mumbai.
Published Date: Feb 06, 2014 07:21 am | Updated Date: Feb 06, 2014 07:30 am