Centre Wants More Taxes For Rs 687 Cr Grants4 April 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: The Centre has directed the State Government to implement a series of taxes mostly in urban areas and introduce e-governance as a pre-condition for release of entire grant under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Rural Mission (JNNURM), Urban Infrastructure Development for Small and Medium Towns and Integrated Housing Small Development Scheme. Implementation of property tax by the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), which was blocked by the Legislative Council by referring the bill to the Joint Select Committee, is one of the condition imposed by the Central Government for release of the JNNURM grants worth 687 crore, which have been held up. Official sources told the Excelsior that in addition to property tax, the Centre has also directed the Housing and Urban Development Department of the Government to impose utility charges in the areas falling under the Municipal Corporations, Councils and Committees. The utility charges included water, sewerage, sanitation and other user charges for the services rendered by the ULBs. The Centre has directed for online governance to provide better facilities to the people in the cities and towns, to begin with, in lieu of property tax and other charges. The facilities include online birth and death certifications, building permissions and a grievance redressal system. The people would have to submit only the No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to download online building permissions when approved by the Committee. Similarly, the Corporations would obtain birth and death records from hospitals, cremation grounds etc, update it and help the people to download it from the website of the Local Bodies. There will be an Online Grievance Redressal System for the Local Bodies under which the problems faced by the people on account of sanitation, certificates, building permissions etc would be sorted out within a stipulated period. The Centre has also called for dual base entry system to make the working more transparent. Sources said the JNNURM grant worth Rs 687 crore would have been very beneficial to the State for carrying out major developmental works in the cities and towns. Imposition of property tax was one of the reforms directed by the Centre but it has been deferred now. Even though the tax bill was cleared by the Legislature itís implementation would have been delayed till the ULBs come into place after the elections. Sources said Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, who happened to be Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department and Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather would take up the issue with the Centre Government during their talks on plan finalisation and other meetings for release of JNNURM grants worth Rs 687 crore on the ground that the State would implement property tax, utility charges and introduce e-governance as early as possible. The Government was confident that the Centre would release some parts of the grants as the State was ready with e-governance including online grievance redressal system, issuance of death and birth certificates and building permissions in some areas. The State Government has also prepared a comprehensive document to be submitted to the Centre for release of JNNURM grants in lieu of some reforms to carry forward development works in the cities and towns.