Residents criticize BBMP’s decision to raise property tax

The proposal of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to increase the property tax has invited criticism from residents’ welfare associations and industry bodies. They opine that the decision of 20 per cent tax hike on residential properties and 25 per cent on commercial properties would affect many people and want the BBMP authorities to reconsider the decision.

If the BBMP authorities fail to reconsider or rollback the hike in property tax, the Citizens’ Action Forum has threatened to file public interest litigation (PIL) in the court.

‘BBMP authorities are not hard on defaulters’
DS Rajasekhar, president, Citizens’ Action Forum, said that the residents of Bangalore are not against paying property tax to the BBMP but oppose the proposal of 20 per cent on residential properties and 25 per cent on commercial properties. Coming down heavily on the BBMP authorities for not taking measures to collect property tax effectively, Rajasekhar said the BBMP authorities have not been maintaining the register of properties in Bangalore. “BBMP authorities are not aware of the actual number of properties (residential and commercial) in Bangalore. The absence of such a register enables the defaulters to continue to evade paying property tax,’’ Rajasekhar said.

Rajasekhar also added that not increasing property tax for the past seven years is the fault of BMBP authorities. “No one has asked the BBMP authorities not to hike the property tax all these seven years. It is their failure for not taking the right decision at the right time,’’ he said.

If all goes according to the plan, the new rates of property tax would come into effect from April 2016 and BBMP is expected to garner Rs 700 crore in revenue. As of now, the BBMP has fixed the target of Rs 2,000 crore revenue through property tax.

‘Proposed hike is too steep’
Criticising the BMBP decision to hike the property tax, B R Gopal Rao, president, Malleswaram Residents’ Welfare Association, has demanded that the BBMP authorities cancel the proposal since the civic body did not take up developmental works in Malleswaram area. “The property tax being paid is itself is too much. Most of the footpaths in Malleswaram have been craving for attention for more than 10 years. No effort has been made to improve the footpaths in Malleswaram,’’ Rao said.

Terming the decision to hike the property tax undemocratic, Subbaiah CM, president, Federation of North East Residents’ Welfare Associations said the BBMP authorities failed miserably to take stakeholders into confidence while taking a decision to hike the property tax. “We are not against paying the property tax or the BBMP hiking the property tax but the proposal to hike 20 per cent on residential buildings and 25 per cent on non-residential buildings is too much. I want the BBMP authorities to reconsider their decision,’’ Subbaiah said.

‘Focus on development work’
Emphasising the need to involve residents’ welfare associations and other stake holders in decision making process, Kathyayini Chamaraj, Executive Trustee, CIVIC, said the civic body needs money to take up developmental works in the city but it has to utilize the tax-payers’ money for the developmental works only. “The tax-payers’ money should not be wasted on unnecessary things. It should be utilized properly to make Bangalore free of garbage, potholes and poor infrastructure,’’ Kathyayini Chamaraj said.

Expressing concern over the steep hike in property tax, N S Sreenivasa Murthy of Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce (FKCCI) opined the BBMP authorities have to reconsider on the percentage of property tax hike. “I have no objection to the BBMP hiking the property tax but not 20 per cent on residential and 25 per cent on non-residential buildings,’’ Murthy said.

Meanwhile, V K Dikshit, president, Karnataka Small Scale Industries’ Association, demanded the BBMP authorities to cancel the proposal to hike the property tax on non-residential buildings. “Many small-scale industries are on the verge of closure or are not doing well due to various reasons. The hike in the property tax will be an additional burden on the small scale industries. The authorities concerned should have taken all the stakeholders into confidence before taking such a decision,’’ Dikshit said.

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