While the BJP's populist manifesto for the civic polls has spared Delhiites from any hike in existing or new taxes, it remains silent on bringing nearly three-fourth of properties in the Capital in the tax net.
Not just BJP, other political parties too are on the same page as none of them has suggested in manifestos the ways to augment the revenue of the cash-strapped civic bodies. The Aam Aadmi Party has gone to the extent of announcing waiver of property tax, the single biggest source of revenue for the local bodies.
This comes at a time when the three municipal corporations are struggling to manage their funds and thus the civic amenities coming to standstill in the city. The corporations are unable to pay salaries to nearly 45 per cent of employees. According to MCD officials, property tax default causes the civic bodies revenue loss to the tune of Rs 800 crore per year.
In total, the North and East Delhi Municipal Corporations have been suffering losses of approximately Rs 2,000 crore annually. Official sources said, out of estimated 40 lakh residential and commercial properties in Delhi, only 10-12 lakh property owners pay the tax. The ambitious project to bring all properties in tax net by issuing them a unique property identification code was started by the unified MCD in 2005-06 but in over a decade this has partially been implemented in South Delhi Corporation areas.
The two other civic bodies are yet to implement it.
Notably, property tax was last revised in the year 2002. As it turns out, the property tax accounts for a substantial part of the total revenue MCD generates.
WHAT BJP HAS IN STORE FOR DELHI
In the year 2016, of the total Rs 8,351 crore revenue the Rs 1,371 crores came from the property tax. Sources said BJP's promise of not increasing taxes will only add to the financial crisis. The three corporations have also opposed a steep hike in parking charges as recommended by the special task force constituted by the Delhi High Court followed by recommendations of the high powered committee on Delhi's decongestion formed by the Union Urban Development Ministry. The BJP promised that no new tax will be levied or rates hiked if it is voted to power. This comes in the backdrop of the Aam Aadmi Party's allegation that power and water tariffs will go up, if the BJP wins the MCD polls.
"Kejriwal is trying to scare people. We will neither levy any new tax nor hike rates. We won't even allow anyone else to do it. We will strongly resist any such move," said Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari.
With an eye on victory in the MCD polls for the third consecutive time, the BJP doled out sops to woo voters. Taking a cue from Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the manifesto, described by BJP leaders as the charter of commitment, promised to provide meals for `10 through the civic bodies. The exemption from getting building plans approved for plots measuring up to 105 square metres will now be extended to plots measuring up to 500 square metres, Tiwari said. The manifesto promised a transparent and corruption-free rule. It also promised to regularise the temporary sanitation workers, digitalisation of citizen services, putting pressure on the Delhi government for regularisation of unauthorised colonies.
It also promised a Rs 10 lakh insurance cover for the students in the MCD schools, health cards for citizens, open gymnasiums, scrapping factory licences, promoting enterprises run by women under the Centre's Startup India scheme, special arrangements to address the problems faced by the people of north-east in the city. It also promised autorickshaw and taxi stands with restrooms for drivers and issuance of licences to hawkers.