BMC budget 2018-19: Now, pay more for medical treatment and other services
Not only is the municipal corporation dipping into its reserve funds for the first time to make up for decreased revenue, but it will also charge more for medical treatment and official services
On the verge of financial sickness, the BMC will now start charging patients more for treatment at civic hospitals in a bid to increase revenue. In an indication of just how sick its financial position is, for the first time, the civic body is dipping into its reserve funds to make up for the budget deficit.
On Friday, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta presented a budget of Rs 27,258.07 crore for 2018-19, which is about Rs 2,000 crore more than last year (Rs 25,141 crore). This increase in expenditure comes at a time when the civic body is facing an unprecedented drop in income.
Last year, civic body's biggest source of income (about 40%) octroi was replaced with central government's Goods and Service Tax (GST). This dip was compounded by a slowdown in real estate and a high court ban on any new construction until the BMC resolves its waste management crisis. The good news is, no new taxes have been levied. However, the bad news is, the BMC will increase its charges at civic hospitals, as well as for services such as licensing for factories, shops, eateries and other establishments.
BMC chief Ajoy Mehta (right) presents a copy of the civic budget on Friday. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
BMC-run hospitals will now charge 20% more from patients from Mumbai, and 30% more from outstation patients. For other services and licences, it will hike its fees by 10%. The goal is to raise nearly Rs 2,000 crore through these fees in 2018-19. Mehta said, "We have only increased charges for services, and amount collected from it will be used to upgrade the department. There is no increase in taxes."
Dipping into reserves
To cover the deficit, the Corporation has decided to break into its reserve funds of Rs 21,176 crore (comprising provident fund, pension fund, fixed deposits, etc), from which it will pull out R2743.96 crore to pad up its budget for the coming year.
Mehta admitted that reduced revenue from Development Plan department (construction projects) and property tax had raised some concerns, but assured that time-to-time GST compensation from the central government, along with withdrawal from special funds will stablise the BMC and help in completing big infrastructure projects.
The civic body has many big-ticket projects planned in the next few years, like the Coastal Road, Goregaon-Mulund Link Road (GMLR), Mumbai Sewage Disposal Project (MSDP) and water tunnel projects.
Mehta explained, "Every year, we would end up not utilising all the money set aside in the budget. This money would be put in fixed deposits. This is the first time we have matched the revenue income and expenditure. In the coming year, for the first time we will start spending more than the earning."
He added, "I agree that the income from Development Plan and property tax has dipped. But we anticipate that we will cover up property tax by March and, in place of octroi, we are getting GST with 8% cumulative growth every year. So we are not losing out because of octroi, but the dip in development income is worrisome." For 2018-19, the civic body has set a target of Rs 5206.15 crore for property tax, and Rs 3947.38 crore from Development Plan department.
Politicos react to budget
Manoj Kotak, BJP group leader
'Major focus is on relaxation of water taxes and sewerage taxes on SRA and MHADA buildings, which we had demanded. So we welcome that. Commissioner has announced 20,000 toilet seats for Mumbaikars. For the first time, BMC is focusing on making toilets. Pay-and-use toilets are going to be free from the next year.'
Rais Shaikh, group leader of Samajwadi Party
'There are no new projects for the city. In fact the older plans are not completed yet. The commissioner also is admitting that less than 50% of funds have been utilised. We hope for better implementation of the budget this time. The announcement of 'no taxes' is misleading. Water charge, civil charge, etc, are expected to increase by 10% every year.'
Proposed BMC budget allocation for year 2018-19
Roads and Traffic
- Important junctions are being designed for implementation as per international standards in the year 2017-18. BMC earmarked 78 junctions and in 2018-19, 60 junctions will be repaired.
- For the parking policy a provision of Rs 1 crore has been made. There are 135 on-street and off-street parking sites with about 22,000 parking spaces across the city.
- Rs 434.10 crores has been proposed for cement concrete roads.
- Rs 590.02 crore provision made for asphalt roads in 2018-19.
Solid Waste Management
- Under Swachh Bharat Mission, BMC has set a target of constructing approximately 20,000 toilet seats in the next 3 years.
- Around 12 lakh bins, with a capacity of 10 litres, are being prepared for next 3 years for waste segregation at household level.
- For a waste-to-energy plant at Deonar, BMC has proposed provision of Rs 110 crore.
- BMC has proposed provision of Rs 7 crore for city's first construction and demolition plant.
StormWater Drain department
- BMC will focus on the abetment of flood situation during monsoon. Out of eight stormwater pumping stations, five have already been commissioned.
- To reduce flood-prone areas from city, provision of Rs 565 crore has been proposed in the budget.
- Taking note of the heavy rainfall on August 29, 2017, the BMC has identified 147 flooding spots. This year, before monsoon, the civic body will eliminate 55 flooding spots, at a cost of Rs 53.71 crore.
- BMC will take up rejuvenation of Dahisar Poisar and Oshiwara rivers. Civic body will appoint the project management consultancy for the work. Provision of Rs 25 lakh has been made.
Gardens, Zoo and Theatre
- Budget provision of Rs 5 crore for beautification of four spaces below flyovers.
- Budget provision of Rs 3 crore for Japanese garden at Bhandup.
- Development of 40 open spaces as per reservation has been started; budget provision of Rs 23.22 crore.
- For Byculla Zoo, BMC has made a provision of Rs 50.25 crore.
Mumbai Fire Brigade
- Rs 12.10 crore proposed for Fire Compliance Cell
- Rs 180 crore proposed for purchase of new equipment and vehicles, like 64-metre hydraulic platform, water towers, fire drone and robots.
Water Supply and Sewerage Disposal
- Rs 44.06 crore provision for Gargai-Pinjal and Damanganga Pinjal River Link project.
- Rs 105 crore allocation for Chembur-Wadala-Parel Tunnel and Chembur-Trombay Tunnel. This will give relief in water supply in parts of central Mumbai and eastern suburbs.
- Rs 538.15 crore for Mumbai Sewerage Disposal Project (MSDP). Under this project, development and construction of seven sewerage treatment plants has been proposed.
Targeted revenue from charges or fees levied for services in 2018-19
Increase in BMC hospital charges for outstation patients
Increase in BMC's charges for services, like licensing
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