Local bodies told to pay pending cess to Library dept

Local bodies told to pay pending cess to Library dept

MCC owes Rs 9 crore, MUDA  Rs 25 lakh

The financial woes of the libraries across the district would soon be eased as the Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) has issued a circular to the heads of all local bodies, including Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) and Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA), to pay long pending cess to the Department of Public Libraries.

While MCC owes around Rs 9 crore, MUDA has to pay Rs 25 lakh, Gram Panchayats and other local bodies coming under City Central Library (CCL) have to pay Rs 50 lakh. Similarly, Mysuru District Central Library (MDCL) has to get Rs 5.5 crore from various Gram Panchayats and municipalities in the district.

According to a circular issued by the Directorate of Municipal Administration to the heads of local bodies on June 14, the report submitted by Principal Accountant General (PAG), Karnataka, to DMA, states that many local bodies across the state have not paid cess to the Library department for many years now. PAG also recommended DMA to initiate suitable action against the officials concerned who failed to pay the cess amount. It had also directed the local bodies to clear pending cess amount before the end of 2017-18 fiscal year. As per the norms, local bodies have to pay 6% of their revenue every month towards the Library department.   

Deputy Director for City Central Library B Manjunath told DH that the Department of Libraries is totally dependant on cess amount for its maintenance and expenditure as the department has no other source of revenue. According to Manjunath, each library needs at least Rs 5 lakh per annum for maintenance. The department depends only on cess amount to spend on newspapers, books, pay salaries of temporary employees, building rent, electricity and water bills. Government pays salaries only to permanent employees, he said.

While MDCL has been maintaining 250 libraries, CCL takes care of 32 libraries and a mobile library. Manjunath said that MCC has been paying Rs 25 lakh a month from last October and MCC Commissioner G Jagadeesh has promised to clear the pending amount soon. He said that it is impossible to maintain libraries without any source of income.

According to Library and Information Science professionals, Karnataka Public Libraries Act needs an amendment. They said, the Act only mentions about the cess amount to be paid by the local bodies to the Library department, but has not mentioned about the action to be taken against the local bodies if they fail to pay the amount on time. The government should enact a legislation to ensure that the cess amount is paid regularly. The Act should also have a provision to punish officials who fail to pay the amount on time.