Broke Palike banks on hand-outs

With an eye on the Assembly elections, the ruling BJP in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) on Thursday presented a populist budget with an outlay of Rs 9,498.90 crore, announcing several welfare schemes for the poor.

The budget largely depends on grants from the State government and loans from financial institutions. It also proposes to generate Rs 1,000 crore by floating municipal bonds and collecting taxes on the laying of optical fibre cables (OFC).

The Palike also intends to garner at least 28 per cent of its estimated receipts from its traditional sources like property and advertisement tax, and trade licence.

Tabling a Rs 1.8-crore surplus budget, Munendra Kumar, chairman, Taxation and Finance Committee, said the anticipated receipts for the current year would be Rs 9,288.95 crore, excluding the opening balance of Rs 211.75 crore, as against the total estimated expenditure of Rs 9,498.9 crore. The expenditure includes Rs 2, 628.77 crore (revenue) and Rs 6,870.13 crore (capital).

A day before tabling the budget, a High Court order brought relief to the Palike, paving the way for the collection of taxes on OFCs. Although the OFCs are treated as a source of revenue in the budget, the specific amount was not mentioned in it due to litigation.

Speaking to mediapersons, Mayor D Venkatesh Murthy said, “Till Tuesday, we were not sure about the status of the OFCs. So, we did not mention it in our budget. But yesterday (Wednesday), we got the order in our favour. Now, we have an additional source of income,” Murthy said.

The Palike intends to generate at least Rs 750 crore from the OFC lines.

The BBMP this year has set a high target of Rs 2,000 crore from property taxes despite the fact that in the last fiscal it could accumulate just about Rs 1,200 crore, which was about Rs 400 crore less than the target.

It intends to accumulate Rs 75.5 crore from advertisement tax, Rs 90 crore from trade licence fee, Rs 484 crore from the State government under the 13th Finance Commission, Rs 100 crore from Tender SURE, Rs 463 crore from  the State Finance Commission, Rs 150 crore from the Centre under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, and Rs 751 crore from the State government under Special Development Grants.

Among the prominent programmes envisaged are Kempegowda Mahadwara at eight places, Hospital Information Management System, Sarvagrama Abhyudaya Programme and stress on public-private partnership.

Mayor Murthy described the budget as people-oriented and realistic. Unlike the previous years where the percentage of implementation was merely 42 per cent, he said he would ensure 90 per cent implementation this time around.

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