It is unfortunate that the BBMP is falling back on the Karnataka Municipal Council Act, 1976 to propose a hike in theproperty tax. It is true that it needs to increase its revenue and hiking property tax is one way of doing it. But it needs to also look at what is happening with property tax collection.
The expansion of the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike and its transformation into the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike with the addition of 110 villages, offers tremendous potential for property tax collection because of the new apartments and gated communities coming up on the city’s outskirts. But when these areas still do not have basic civic facilities, including proper roads, what moral right does the BBMP to increase the property tax?.
The people would be really happy to pay property tax if the BBMP fulfilled its fundamental responsibility of providing them all basic amenities. When there are no proper roads, sewage lines and footpaths, on what basis is it asking for an increased property tax ? It is hypocritical and does not make any sense.
Before proposing a hike in the tax it has to make sure that it is collected properly from all properties in the city. Also, there are a lot of issues in the collection of property tax such as valuation and so on, which need to be sorted out to help the BBMP commissioner maximise it.
One of the BBMP’s big sources of revenue is advertising. But it has put a stop to it, which is not a smart idea. When commercial entities want to advertise and are ready to pay for it, the civic agency could easily earn revenue this way. Like the Central Finance Commission, which allocates fund to states based on their tax collection, a State Finance Commission should be set up to allocate funds to cities in Karnataka based on their tax collection. This will keep the civic body from being dependant on state grants for every project it undertakes.
Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder, Citizens for Bengaluru...