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Delhi’s south civic body plans to hike tax to address fund shortage

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In a desperate bid to ramp up revenues ahead of the crucial civic elections, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has proposed a possible hike in the annual tax levied on residential and commercial establishments across the city.

The civic elections are due in April of 2022.

SDMC commissioner Gyanesh Bharti proposed the tax hike in the budget proposals for 2022-23. Usually, the three civic bodies present their budget by the second week of December, but this year it was advanced in view of the upcoming elections, civic officials said. They added that the SDMC wanted to announce the plans for the next financial years before the model code of conduct for the civic polls kicks in.

Faced with a heavy financial crunch, the three civic bodies in Delhi have struggled to implement new projects and even pay salaries to their staff leading to strikes over the last five years. The BJP, which has been ruling the three civic bodies for the past 15 years, has come under severe attack from the opposition and has blamed the financial mess on the mismanagement and rampant corruption in the civic bodies.

Bharti made it clear that if the tax hikes are not cleared by the SDMC House, it will be “very difficult” to take up any new projects. “Even today, out of whatever revenue we are earning, more than 90% is being used just to pay the salaries of employees, and rest is being spent on essential sanitation work,” the commissioner said.

If the hike in tax rates is approved, according to an official, it will help increase the revenue by 15%.

Bharti explained that unlike last year, this time there will only be two property tax slabs of 12% and 14%. Properties under categories A such as Sundar Nagar and Vasant , B (Greater Kailash and Defence Colony), D (Janakpuri, Rajouri Garden and E (Paharganj and Pandav Nagar)are proposed to pay tax at the rate of 14%, and the remaining categories of F and G will be taxed at the rate of 12%.

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