The General Body of the Pune Municipal Corporation passed the 11 per cent tax hike proposal for the 2010-11 civic budget, with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress party corporators voting in its favour.
While the NCP-Congress combine supported the hike with 64 votes, there were only 24 votes against the proposal from the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party side. The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena corporators chose to remain neutral.
Therefore, the proposal, which was earlier passed by the standing committee, received a final approval from the GB on Wednesday. It will now be part of the civic budget 2010-11 and will be implemented from the next financial year, starting April 1. Accordingly, the 11 per cent hike in the service tax structure will be brought into effect, as also a steep hike on property tax for the IT sector and charging of octroi on gold and silver on the basis of Value Added Tax.
Members of the ruling NCP-Congress align said the increase in revenue as a result of the hike will help the city's development. BJP and Sena members opposed the statement, and said the hike will further burden citizens and make life miserable at a time when rising prices of essential commodities was already weighing heavy on them.
BJP corporator Anil Shirole lashed out at the civic administration and the ruling parties. He said the hike is being brought into force without first exploiting other means of increasing the civic revenue. "Why doesn't the PMC reduce its administrative expenses? What is the course of thought in spending lakhs of rupees in renovating offices of senior officials? I don't see any logic in hiking the tax."
Shiv Sena corporator Sham Deshpande termed the tax hike as an unfortunate decision and said that the new alliance in the PMC (Congress-NCP) has hit the common man hard. He said the city was developing well enough over the last two years, when there were no such steep increase in taxes.
BJP corporator Ujwal Keskar questioned why unassessed properties had not been brought into the tax net. "Why are citizens, who pay their taxes sincerely, being further burdened. Those who have been evading taxes are not brought to book. It is because of evaders that law-abiding citizens have to suffer," he said.
Congress party leader Ulhas alias Aba Bagul said it is wrong interpret the tax hike as injustice being done to the common man. "We have not increased octroi on necessary goods. If the tax is not hiked now, it will affect the development of the city. However, I would also want the civic administration to be efficient. Citizens must be assured of a better quality of life."