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Discussing budget not councillors' cup of tea?

In spite of knowing that the much-awaited annual budget for the city would be approved in the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) General Body (GB) meeting, less than 20 per cent of the total strength of the house cared to attend the convene yesterday.

The approval of the Rs 4,167.50 crore budget made by Standing Committee Chairman Baburao Chandere saw attendance of only 30 out of the152 members of the house. “Most of the corporators left the house soon after they their finished their speech. Those who remained were seen waiting their turn,” said Aniruddha Bankar, who was in the gallery.


Empty chairs: Less than 20 per cent of the total strength of the house cared to attend the meeting yesterday. Pic/Vivek Sabnis 

Likewise, Ramkrishana Joshi, another spectator in the gallery, said, “The corporators who participated in the discussion were only interested to know about the allocations made for their own wards. Hence, very few members were keen to know the details of the budget.”

Congress member Avinash Bagwe said that Rs 800 crore deficit would be caused to the civic body, as it is doing away with the Octroi Tax and is introducing the new Local Body Tax (LBT). He also stated that PMC has failed to utilise the entire amount allotted for the capital expenditure since the past three years. Of the total Rs 1,900 crore, the civic body was able to spend only Rs 550 crore till December 2012, which is only 28 per cent of the total sum.

Dr Siddharth Dhende, RPI leader in the house, suggested,” As LBT will be something new for the administration, the civic body should focus on recovering the amount from advertisement hoardings. The civic body can discontinue cultural festivals and use the fund for developmental works.”

Varsha Tapkir, a BJP corporator, lamenting the earlier budget of 2012-13, said, “Making new 25 gardens and distributing cycles to students from Class VI to Class X of PMC-run schools was not done despite allocations being made in the budget. This year the PMC has concentrated on e-learning and has ignored Aanganwadi activities.”

Shiv Sena group leader Ashok Harnawal, Congress leaders Ashok Shinde, Prashant Jagtap and NCP House leader Prashant Jagtap also spoke at the budget meeting. Chandere replied to their queries as the discussions continued till late into the evening.  

Puneites to pay...
Rs 8,378 crore 
VAT to the state

Rs 7,938 crore
Income and service tax to the Central Government

Rs 1,835 crore
Property and other taxes to the PMC

Favoritism?
Last month, PMC Commissioner Mahesh Pathak had presented a budget of Rs 3,605.02 crore (Rs 582.48 crore less that what was approved yesterday). At that time, several members of the house claimed that the budget was in favor of Kothrud, Baner and Balewadi area and lacked equal distribution of funds. 

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