Ever since the Local Body Tax (LBT) was implemented in Navi Mumbai on April 1, it has been a sore point for traders, who have been complaining of the various discrepancies and refusing to pay the tax. Taking cognisance of the issue, Thane guardian minister Ganesh Naik, proposed to scale down the LBT rates to give some relief to traders, during a meeting last week.
Senior Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) leaders present at the meeting told MiD DAY that the decision to scale down the LBT rates was at a preliminary level of discussion, and no final word had been passed on it. Officials added that a proposal under the guidance of NMMC commissioner A Jarhad would be sent to the state government for consideration.
However, when MiD DAY asked how the civic body planned to return the paid amounts to traders if the LBT rates were revised, an official from NMMC said, requesting anonymity: “This question would arise only if the state government plans to revise the rates from a back date. However, if the LBT percentages were revised from this date onwards, the problem of returning backdated amounts would not arise at all.”
Crackdown on defaulters
As per NMMC records, there are 23,000 registered traders in the NMMC as well as in the MIDC area. Civic officials say that since there are many traders who have not been paying the tax, they will be carrying out a crackdown against the defaulters. “We have waited long enough for defaulters to pay the LBT amount. Now, a fresh list of all defaulters will be prepared and strict action will be taken against them after Diwali. Either the premises of the defaulters will be sealed or we will possess their goods or property,” said Sudhir Cheke, deputy municipal commissioner, Cess.
Agricultural products are exempted from LBT. Products such as wine and other alcohol spirits incur a tax of 4 per cent. But this has now risen to 7 per cent. LBT on industrial items has increased from 1 per cent to 2.5-3 per cent. In the last financial year, NMMC collected Rs 420 crore as revenue from cess, with a monthly average of the same being approximately Rs 35 crore.