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Corporation's budget termed a farce

By Our Staff Correspondent

MYSORE, AUG. 23. The Mysore City Corporation is in need of capacity building as it is does not have the minimum level of management practices to ensure the basic amenities for the city.

The views expressed by a group of urban management experts, who carried out a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis of the corporation some years ago, are reflected in a similar analysis carried out by the Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP).

Bhamy V. Shenoy of the parishat, who did a critical analysis of the corporation's methodology of preparing the annual budget, said the corporation had ignored basic steps in preparing the budget. He said the figures were manipulated to show a "surplus budget." The "surplus budget" was a farce enacted every year as the corporation categorised loans and advances as revenue. He said a budget should separate capital expenditure from the expenditure to manage the minimum and non-discretionary needs of the corporation. It should separate accounts for such major items such as water supply, sewerage, and sanitation, including garbage collection, property tax collection, management of corporation-owned properties, road maintenance, and park maintenance, the analysis said.

The report underlined the need for the corporation to prepare a budget based on major cost or revenue centres so that a proper analysis could be carried out. "But if one goes by the corporation's present methodologies, it is impossible to find out the profit or loss of the Vani Vilas Waterworks. The corporation did not even know the cost incurred in supplying 1,000 litres of water. This being the case, how can it take a correct decision in improving water supply," asked Mr. Shenoy.

The MGP analysis found that in the Budget for 2004-05, expenditure on streetlights (Rs. 3.3 crores) and the cost of the Vani Vilas Waterworks (amounting to Rs. 9 crores) were reported under office expenses.

Similarly, the actual expenditure for the Vani Vilas Waterworks was reported as Rs. 1.3 crores and for streetlights, it was Rs. 13.49 crores. The annual cost of streetlights had shot up from Rs. 1 crore in 2003-04 to Rs. 3.3 crores this year. For building code violations, the amount collected from CR and building licence fee for 2002-03 was Rs. 11.58 lakhs and Rs. 14.20 lakhs, respectively. But the fine imposed was a staggering Rs. 1.43 crores, which called for an urgent need to take a re-look at the question of monitoring the issuing of the building licence and CRs, said Dr. Shenoy.

Similarly, the analysis pertaining to property tax showed poor collection rates and average property tax of houses increased from Rs. 30 in 1997-98 to Rs. 455 in 2002-03.

Even assuming that 50 per cent of the houses did not attract any property tax, the rate per dwelling was a reflection of the corporation's inefficiency, said the MGP. "Even at a conservative estimate, the corporation should be able to collect at least Rs. 30 crores a year but it had collected only Rs. 8 crores in 2002-03," the analysis said.

The MGP pointed out that the corporation should mop up more resources by improving the property tax collection, trading licence fee collection, rent assessments from corporation-owned properties and improving the productivity of the personnel.

Experts said there was no dearth of qualified management personnel and talented persons in the city. Several non-governmental organisations such as the MGP had members who had served in various capacities at the national and the international level and most of them had been co-opted in the Mysore Agenda Task Force, the analysis added.

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