Rs 8,000 crore in 3 months?

The Stamp Duty authorities have fallen short of their target for 2011 by a whopping Rs 8,000 crore. While the Stamp Duty and Registration offices were given a target of Rs 16,000 crore for the current year (for the entire state), till November 2011 the officials managed to collect just Rs 8,000 crore. According to the officials, there are numerous reasons for this shortfall, but the prime one is the thinning out of documentation itself.

A senior revenue official revealed that between January and November 2010, approximately 10,000 documents were stamped all across the state as compared to the 8,800 stamped between January and November 2011. While the revenue target was set at Rs 10,000 crore for 2010, the department surpassed it and generated a whopping Rs 13,500 crore. Hence, keeping this performance in mind, the department's target for the year 2011 was set at Rs 16,000 crore.

The big slump
Unfortunately, this year, all the stamp offices in the city including the major ones like Borivli, Andheri, Old Customs House and Kurla have experienced a slump in their collections. While their target for 2011 was set at Rs 8,500 crore, so far, they have managed to collect just Rs 3,900 crore and are now under tremendous pressure to meet the shortfall of Rs 4,600 crore before March 31, 2012.

Official word
A senior stamp official, requesting anonymity, said, "It is unfortunate that there is no methodology used while setting targets for the department. This year's targets are just unrealistic." The officer added that unlike other states, Maharashtra is the only state that has diversified stamp duty on documents other than property agreements.

"The property rates across the city have seen a steep rise in the last one year. However, the ready reckoner rates are far less than the market rates. We have no option but to hike the ready reckoner rate (20 to 30 per cent), which would still be lower than existing market rates," the officer added.

According to S Chockalingam, inspector general of registration (IGR), Pune, "Annual statement of rates (ready reckoner) is based on the discovery of market rates from various sources, including the value shown in the documents registered in the previous years and information from other market sources, newspaper articles, advertisements, etc. I am yet to get the copy of the same from the Town Planning department and the same will be implemented from January 1, 2012."

Plummeting collections
Another senior revenue official sighted various reasons for the dip in revenue generation: Market prices of houses in the city are higher than that in the rest of the state. Hence most of the prospective buyers have put their plans on hold.

Interest rate on housing loans have increased from eight per cent to 11 per cent. The period between April and June was affected due the arrest of senior LIC officials in a mega housing loan scam.

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