Mumbai: BEST committee passes resolution for financial grant instead of a loan

Members of the BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) management committee, on Thursday, passed a unanimous resolution demanding that the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) should provide Rs 406 crore financial aid in the form of a grant and not a loan. In the 2021-22 budget, BMC had proposed to grant Rs 406 crore loan to BEST in order to ease off its financial burden.

BEST has annual outstanding expenses worth Rs 2,483 crore, which includes government taxes worth Rs 101 crore, electricity duty worth Rs 564 crore, short term loans worth Rs 425 crore, and long term loans worth Rs 350 crore, amongst other expenses. Members of the committee stated another loan will only increase the financial burden of BEST. “Considering the heavy loss of the transport body, BMC should provide financial aid in the form of a grant and not a loan,” said Ravi Raja, leader of opposition (LoP) in BMC and BEST committee member told the Free Press Journal.

“At the same time, BEST also needs to pull up its socks. Since the past four years, it has been sending a deficit budget to the corporation and now they have to think of ways for revenue generation,” Raja added. In the 2020-21 financial budget, BMC had proposed Rs 1,500 crore financial aid to BEST. However, owing to the pandemic, the civic body had slashed the budget by Rs 500 crore.

“Being the parent body, it's BMC's legal responsibility to provide financial support to BEST,” said senior committee member Sunil Ganacharya. He also pointed out that, on the loan amount, the civic body will be charging a four percent interest rate, which would approximately amount to Rs 50 crore.

“BEST has obeyed all the orders that have come from BMC, including the decision to reduce the minimum base fares to Rs 5. Now, it’s completely unfair for the civic body to put another loan on the transport body's shoulder,” Ganancharya added. “BEST provided outstanding service during the pandemic, which is why we have passed the resolution that will be tabled at the corporation meeting,” BEST Chairman Praveen Shinde told the Free Press Journal.

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