The decision to impose an additional six per cent in way of property tax, including on water charges, saw support coming in for the very first time from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) towards the ruling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) General Body (GB) meeting yesterday.
On the other hand, the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena opposed the property tax-hike. The tax hike was approved in the house after getting 66 votes against 49 in the house. Property tax also includes general tax, fire tax, tree cess, cleanliness tax, water benefit tax, sewage tax, road tax and education sub-tax. The civic administration had suggested a minimal hike in these taxes coming under property tax. Interestingly, Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services will be taxed like domestic charges, as per the Standing Committee resolution (1027) on March 31, 2003, in keeping with directives given by the state government. The PMC GB also approved six per cent tax on entertainment, against eight per cent as suggested by the civic administration.
Being the second largest party in PMC house, MNS leader of the opposition Vasant More said, “We are with NCP only because there was no hike in the property tax in the past four years. Property tax with water charges is a major chunk of income to PMC, which could be used for developmental works in the city. Since many years, property tax to the tune of Rs 700 to Rs 800 crore has been pending.”
Thanking MNS for the support, Subhash Jagtap, NCP’s leader of the house, said, “PMC wants more money if octroi income is stopped. In fact, we need to be more stringent on taxes and make the best of the present 7.50-lakh property tax payers in the city. If people accept petrol hikes, increased VAT and even a costlier cups of tea in city hotels, then why not just a six per cent hike in property tax, which includes an everyday resource like water?”
Earlier, Congress corporators leaders, including Abhay Chhajed, Arvind Shinde and Avinash Bagwe had opposed the hike in property tax. BJP’s Medha Kulkarni, Shrinath Bhimale, Madhuri Sahastrabuddhe and Ashok Yenpure with Shiv Sena’s Ashok Harnawal urged for not imposing the property tax.
Medha Kulkarni also suggested exemption on property tax for those housing societies that are enforcing Rain Water Harvesting (RWH). The suggestion was ruled out on the merit of votes with 55 corporators in favour and 60 against.
Arvind Shinde, Congress group leader in PMC, said, “MNS had joined hand with NCP even in the past. This indicates MNS’ new political strategy. I am not sure how long it will last, because there is no better option than Congress for NCP.”