A day before the municipal budget, senior corporators have said that the civic budget for the 2021-2022 financial year must focus on strengthening the health infrastructure of the city. Earlier, this week, leaders of the opposition met municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal and stated that the local level health infrastructure needs to be strengthened as the pandemic continues to be here.
“More than 60 per cent of Mumbaikars reside in the slum areas and they are heavily dependent in civic-run hospitals and dispensaries, more funds should be allotted in the public health sector and steps should be taken in filling the empty posts in various dispensaries and hospitals,” Ravi Raja, Leader of Opposition (LoP) and senior Congress corporator told FPJ.
In last year's municipal budget, the civic body had allotted Rs 5 crore for tackling the pandemic situation. When the pandemic was at its peak, BMC had spent a large part of its revenue in building temporary COVID care facilities, hiring medical staffers and procuring medical equipment. So far, the BMC has spent more than Rs 2,000 crores in its fight against the pandemic, most of which has come from the contingency fund.
Apart from improving the health sector, Raja also stated that a rebate on property tax should be given to Mumbaikars who have properties less than 500 square feet.
Meanwhile, the revenue of the civic body has taken a hit owing to the pandemic outbreak. As of December 2020, BMC has been able to recover only 40 per cent of the estimated revenue, proposed last year. So far, BMC has been able to recover only 10 per cent of the outstanding property tax and 35 per cent of the outstanding water and sewerage bills. Both property tax and water bills are the primary sources of revenue for the BMC.
Leaders of opposition parties have also stated that BMC needs to work aggressively in collecting the outstanding tax in the next financial year.
“The administration needs to become aggressive in collecting the outstanding taxes, after March 2020, the BMC has not conducted any drive for collecting taxes,” Prabhakar Shinde, BJP group leader in BMC told FPJ.