Priority to flood mitigation, education

Revised property tax rates fail to boost revenue; sharp increase in borrowing to finance infrastructure projects

Revised property tax rates fail to boost revenue; sharp increase in borrowing to finance infrastructure projects

The Greater Chennai Corporation Council passed the budget for 2022-23 on Saturday, with the bulk of the funds earmarked for flood mitigation, school education and traffic improvement. About 50% of the capital expenditure allocation was earmarked for flood mitigation works in various parts of the city.

Tax and Finance Committee Chairman Sarbajaya Das presented the budget with capital expenditure of ₹2,410.24 crore and revenue expenditure of ₹3,613.35 crore for the year 2022-23. The revenue receipt is estimated at ₹2,824.77 crore.

Business tax collection is expected to be ₹475 crore in 2022-23. The grant from the State Finance Commission is expected to be ₹500 crore. The deficit is estimated at ₹363 crore in 2022-23.

Even after the government increased the property tax, the company is expected to withdraw only ₹800 crore from over 12 lakh properties. Some councillors, including those in the ruling alliance, demanded a reversal of the property tax increase.

However, after the budget was passed, Council passed another resolution seeking objections and suggestions from members of the public to the proposed property tax increase. The proposal will result in a 50% increase in property tax for a 600 square foot home in Old Town areas, while the increase would be 25% for properties in additional areas. The property tax increase for residential properties over 1,801 square feet will be 150% in the Old Town areas and 100% in the added areas.

To borrow

Due to a decrease in the society’s tax revenue, the borrowings of the civic body increased to ₹2,500 crore. The World Bank, Asian Development Bank and KfW have provided loans to the civic body for infrastructure projects such as storm sewers.

Public sector banks such as the State Bank of India have participated in the financing of some projects. Interest payments are estimated at ₹148 crore in 2022-23, marking an increase of more than 1,000% over the past seven years.

Total loans taken from agencies such as the World Bank and KfW were estimated at ₹550 crore in 2022-23. Establishment expenditure is estimated at ₹1,836 crore in 2022-23 from ₹1,587 crore last year.

Meanwhile, Mayor R. Priya made 64 announcements regarding civic infrastructure projects and social measures.

Highlighting the flood damage in the city and the need for flood mitigation projects, the mayor said the state government had agreed to obtain funding from the Asian Development Bank for the construction of rainwater collectors in Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Thiru. Vi. Ka. Nagar and parts of Ambattur at a cost of ₹600 crore. The civic body will implement the project to construct storm drains in the southern parts of the city at a cost of ₹300 crore with funding from the German development bank, KfW. Funds from Singara Chennai 2.0 will be used to construct stormwater drains at an estimated cost of ₹70 crore. Similar works will be undertaken in the flood prone areas of the city at a cost of ₹120 crore with funds from the World Bank. 

The Society will launch gender equality training for 1.31 lakh students in 281 schools across the city through cricket and dance.

Women’s safety

As many as 70 schools will benefit from internet connection and various smart classroom facilities. Surveillance cameras will be installed under the Nirbhaya fund at a cost of ₹5.47 crore for the safety of school children. The civic body allocated ₹6.91 crore to give martial arts training to female students.

Many of the 64 announcements were based on old initiatives of the former DMK regime in 2006-2011.

Bridges would be built near the bus stop on Usman Road. Another bridge would be built at the Valluvar Kottam junction to reduce traffic congestion.

The original proposal was to construct an elevated corridor linking Thirumalai Pillai Road near Valluvar Kottam and the Poonamalle High Road junction near the Ega Theatre.

Luisa D. Fuller