NMC budgets for 1k cr more revenue sans new taxes

Nagpur: Standing committee chairman Virendra Kukreja presented Nagpur Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) surplus budget of Rs2,946 crore for 2018-19 fiscal, with the stated aim of developing a clean and green city. However, continuing the tradition, he estimated the revenue at a very high Rs2,801.01 crore, even though it was Rs1,747.55 crore in the last fiscal.
In perspective, NMC has taken last nine years to grow its revenue by Rs1,000 crore, while the budget envisages doing this in one year. Also, Kukreja has not imposed any new tax, or hiked property tax, water tariff, building plan sanction or other charges to get more revenue.

Even though the cash-strapped NMC has not cleared contractors’ bills of last fiscal, Kukreja managed to show surplus of Rs145 crore from last fiscal. This figure was a notional Rs10.64 lakh in the civic chief’s Rs2,048.53 crore budget presented two months ago.

Kukreja said he was very confident on his revenue estimation. “I did not propose any new revenue source but will achieve the target with the help of grants from the state government and increase in revenue from property tax and town planning department. The government is all set to make amendments in the Metro Rail transit oriented development (TOD) zones, and hefty revenue is also expected from regularization of unauthorized structures and plots,” he said.

Despite revenue from property tax being Rs196.67 crore last year, Kukreja has estimated it will now be Rs509.51 crore. He made it clear that the civic body was not in a mood to reduce last year’s steep hike in property tax.

Similarly, Kukreja estimated revenue from town planning department at Rs252.50 crore, up from Rs48.64 crore last year.

Kukreja has also accounted for Rs249.91 crore revenue that is to go to the state government directly, and also loan of Rs284 crore. Only Rs1,031.11 crore will come from NMC’s own sources, with the rest from the government as grants, indicating a rise in dependency on the government.

Sticking to his theme — clean and green — Kukreja made provision of Rs2 lakh each for 156 corporators for plantations, landscaping, rainwater harvesting or solar panels on NMC establishments. “I will ensure approval of Nag, Pili and Pora river rejuvenation projects from the government, along with lakes’ conservation plans,” he said.

Amid applause from corporators, he also announced Rs21 lakh each for 156 corporators as ward fund, in which women corporators will get Rs2 lakh more than men. He increased zonal budget to Rs75 crore, where emergency and small works can be executed in 38 wards.

Announcing some new projects, Kukreja said works on Rs5,700 crore Orange or London Street Project will begin from Diwali, bringing in cash for the civic body. “Three layout plans have been sanctioned. I will ensure completion of ongoing and proposed projects of the last budget. Special concentration will be on BoT projects. I will also take follow up all projects sanctioned by union minister Nitin Gadkari and CM Devendra Fadnavis to make the city smart and safe,” he said.

The budget also reduces NMC’s high administrative and establishment expenses of around 55% to below 40%.

Already facing huge financial liability, NMC has much to worry as Kukreja has proposed grants of Rs120 crore for water supply and Rs108 crore for city bus services, despite two special purpose vehicles formed around six years ago to take care of these two services.

Though a builder by profession, Kukreja did not announce introduction of online building plan sanction management system, which CREDAI was awaiting anxiously.

Appreciating the budget, mayor Nanda Jichkar said Kukreja succeeded in giving new vision to NMC. “Women have much to cheer from the budget as female corporators got Rs2 lakh higher ward fund for women self-employment,” she said.

Ruling party leader Sandip Joshi and leader of opposition Tanaji Wanve decided to hold discussions on the budget on Thursday, which will be followed by approval and its implementation.

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