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Civic budget does not tax Thane voter
February, 18th 2009

With Lok Sabha and Assembly polls due in the state later this year, the Shiv Sena-BJP-led Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) on Tuesday presented a `no pain, all gain' budget for 2009-10.

With a focus on infrastructure projects, the TMC is all set to give Thane a complete makeover. A world-class planetarium, an Olympic-size swimming pool at Balkum, a grand sports academy in Mumbra, a top-of-the-line badminton court at the Cadbury junction are some of the projects that will be taken up in the next fiscal. However, the icing on the cake is that this revamp will not pinch the Thaneites' pockets. TMC commissioner Nandkumar Jantre, who presented the Rs 1,426-crore budget, said no new taxes will be levied.

Jantre's "zero tax hike'' budget has lifted the mood of tax payers in Thane, a day after Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee refused to tweak tax rules along populist lines in the Interim Budget.

In a bid to woo voters from slums, an allocation of Rs 140 crore has been made for construction of homes and transit tenements under the Centrally-aided Basic Services For Urban Poor . "Under the scheme, each slum dweller will get a 275 sq ft home. Six slum pockets in Thane are to be developed under this programme," said a civic official adding "26% of the total budget caters to the poor''.

Despite the economic slump, the 7,500-plus TMC staffers have something to cheer about with the budget promising a hike in salaries. A whopping Rs 40 crore has been earmarked for the payment of arrears since 2006 to TMC employees.

However, the TMC budget managers have chosen to ignore the meltdown and its impact on the civic treasury. Figures indicate that revenue from octroi slipped by 8.5% while the recovery from development charges is less by Rs 24 crore or 25% less than the expected

Rs 85 crore in 2008-09. "Though there is a recessionary trend, we have been able to plug loopholes in the tax collections. Revenue from property tax has crossed Rs 141 crore in this fiscal when the target was Rs 124 crore,'' Jantre said, adding that this is the first time that the TMC has presented an outcome budget.

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