All parties in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee unanimously rejected the Mumbai civic body’s proposal to increase property taxes by 14 per cent on Wednesday. They agreed that the proposal would be sheer injustice to citizens who are already reeling under the blows of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The proposal had been tabled before the standing committee last week but was not passed by the committee then. The opposition said it needed more time to study the document and understand the financial ramifications on the common person in the ongoing pandemic.
The proposal tabled by the assessment and the collection department last week had proposed that hotels would get their status changed from commercial to industrial, thereby bringing them relief from various taxes. It had also proposed that property tax be calculated as per the ready reckoner rates as on April 1, 2021. With the revised ready reckoner rate, property tax on all properties will go up by approximately 14 per cent. However, this will not affect the rebate given to those with properties less than 500 sqft. Had it been passed by the standing committee, this revision of rules were proposed to be applicable for four years, from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2025. With this, BMC’s property tax income was expected to go up by Rs. 1,000 crore.
As per the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, property tax is revised every five years and this revision could be up to 40 per cent. The last revision was made in 2015, and the next one was due in 2020. However, due to the pandemic, the revision in 2020 had been deferred until now.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar had already assured Mumbaikars two days ago that there would be no hike in property tax rates, as long as the Covid situation in the city prevailed. “Covid-19 has hit people very badly. Many have lost their jobs. Hence, we will not further add to the burden of Mumbaikars by increasing property tax,” said Pednekar.
The opposition had criticised the proposal. Ravi Raja, Congress corporator and Leader of the Opposition in the BMC said, “With the change in status, hotels will get relief in property tax. However, this proposal will lead to an increase in tax for the common man. Even if the administration defends the decision by saying it is not revising property tax rates as scheduled every five years, it should not make a decision that will burden the common man. Congress will oppose this proposal. We did not let it pass today, as we needed more time to study it.”
Talking on the same lines, BJP corporator Vinod Mishra from Kurar village in Malad said, “They can come with a proposal to cut down development charges for developers/builders by 50 per cent, a proposal for concessions of 50 per cent to hoarding contractors , property tax for five-star hotels are waived. But do they (civic administration) ever think of giving a respite to the common man? Both the ruling party and opposition have rejected the proposal, as representatives of common citizens. I criticise the Shiv Sena for letting such a proposal be tabled before the committee.”