ULBs struggle with shoe-string revenue

As State Election Commission gets ready to hold elections to Urban Local Bodies, their financial health is far from reassuring; regardless of which party wins the elections, there is not much elbow ro

Published: 29th December 2019 10:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th December 2019 10:24 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  Except GHMC, no other civic body got a penny of allotted budget 

Thanks the apathy of the State Government, the civic conditions of a majority of municipalities and municipal corporations across the State are in a state of neglect due to non-release of sanctioned budget to the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across the State for the year 2019-2020.Of the Rs 801 crore earmarked for the municipalities and municipal corporations barring Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), so far, no funds have been released to any of the ULBs by the State government. With great difficulty, many ULBs are surviving with revenue generated through property tax collections, building fees collected for issuing building permissions, trade licence fees from shops and establishments, and advertisement tax etc.

Amit bandre

Municipal administration and urban development officials admitted that the earmarked budget for ULBs has not been released. They told Express that if the budget is released, municipalities and municipal corporations can carry out development work in their respective ULBs. With about three months left for the current financial year to end, ULBs are crying for help from the State for releasing of their sanctioned budgets.

The various budget allocations pending under different heads are: ULBs covering corporations, urban development authorities, town improvement boards, externally aided projects were sanctioned Rs 10.53  lakh, Centrally-sponsored schemes like Swachh Bharat Mission (Rs 16.20 lakh), municiplaities under state finance commission (Rs 97.97 crore), municipalities for development work (Rs 29.85 crore), and municipalities for interest free loans- Vaddileni Leni Runalu was sanctioned Rs 18.37 lakh. Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation was to get 29.37 lakh, and municipal corporations of Karimnagar, Khammam, Nizamabad and Ramagundem was to get budget of Rs 39.16 lakh. 

Under State Finance Commission (SFC) grants to municipalities and municipal corporations Rs 5.18 crore was earmarked, under Special Component Plan for SCs (Rs 60 lakh), municipalities for developmental works (Rs 1.69 lakhs), and grant-in-aid for municipal corporations of Karimnagar, Khammam, Nizamabad and Ramagundem (Rs 5.36 crore). For development of new municipalities Rs 8 crore and establishment cost of municipalities and municipal corporations Rs 160 crore.


Only 54.18% tax collected for the financial year

Officials of Municipal Corporation of Karimnagar (MCK) are striving hard to collect property taxes from government institutions and house owners. So far, they have collected only Rs 14.57 crore of the total tax of Rs 26.90 crore for this financial year, which works out to about 54.18 per cent.
About 54,553 assessments exist under MCK, including 392 State and four central government institutions. The State has not cleared dues of Rs 3.84 crore, and the Centre of Rs 49.14 lakh. MCK commissioner G Venugopal Reddy said that they are concentrating on tax collection.  


Rs 29 crore shortfall in revenue for the year

Greater Waranal Municipal Corporation (GWMC) are also finding it hard to generate adequate revenue. 
GWMC’s main sources of income are property tax, Vacant Land Tax (VLT), water charges and trade licence fees. Though it can generate at least Rs 68 crore as revenue, it has generated only around Rs 39 crore tax in 2019-20 fiscal. 

The GWMC authorities have issued notices to tax defaulters of the revenue department, road & building department, irrigation department, forest and to Kakatiya University (KU). 

The Jangaon municipality’s target was to collect taxes of Rs 37.74 crore. However, they have only managed to collect Rs 17 crore, with pending balance of Rs 20 crore. Pending taxes of various State government properties is Rs 15.22 lakh. The municipal officials have issued a notice to all State government departments for the same, and the officials say that taxes will be paid in February or by March-end.

In Jayashankar Bhupalpally municipality, the municipal officials targeted collection of Rs 4 crore for 2019-20 financial year. The tax collected till date is onlyRs 1.30 crore, with the Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) still needing to pay Rs 2.56 crore. They recently cleared Rs 1.30 crore, with the remaining due of Rs 1.26 crore to Bhupalpally municipality. The State government departments need to pay Rs 47 lakh tax for 2019-2020 financial year.Dornakal, Maripeda and Thorrur mandals are new municipalities in Mahbubabad district. The municipal authorities are struggling to pay salaries for sanitary and outsourced workers.

For the past six months, salaries have not been paid to these workers. The authorities have issued notices for collection of tax to property owners in municipalities.


‘NO insistence on payment due to elections’

Government departments in Kothagudem municipality are yet to pay Rs 76.36 lakh. SCCL tops the list, as it still owes Rs 55 lakh followed by mandal development office that owes Rs 7.17 lakh, and RTC which has yet to pay Rs 2.93 lakhs. Private citizens have to pay Rs 1.70 crore. The government departments have not been paying taxes for a long time and municipal officials are not insisting on payment now as elections date is nearing. 

According to sources, officials are not showing any interest in collecting the taxes. It is learnt that representatives of ruling party are pressurising municipal officials to not insist on people to pay taxes with the upcoming municipal elections.In Madhira municipality, government dues are Rs 43.79 lakh and private citizens owe Rs 1.46 crore for past two to three years. A municipal officer said, “we have been verbally told by our bosses to not pressurise people into paying their taxes. There are four municipalities in erstwhile Khammam district and the situation is same in all municipalities.”


Rs 3 crore property tax due from 250 Govt offices

About Rs 9.57 crore is due to the Nalgonda municipality. The departments that have fallen in arrears apart form the government, include private offices, schools, colleges and commercial establishments. The Nalgonda municipality has 40 wards with 28,300 houses, 3,800 commercial complexes and 1500 other heads. At least Rs 9.57 crore property tax still needs to be collected from the above.Municipal authorities have already issued demand notes to tax payers and said they will seize the property of defaulters. But with elections round the corner, officials are dragging their feet on this issue.
At least Rs 3 crore property tax is due from 250 government offices. Tax from ZP office due is Rs 1 crore, central post office Rs 70 lakh and district medical office Rs 50 lakh.

Private schools have also to pay aboutRs 1 crore property tax. Meanwhile, the population of Nalgonda has increased. But, consequent to the increase, there is no sufficient staff in the municipality to collect dues. There are also allegations that some private schools and commercial establishments are approaching former councillors for help to avoid payment of taxes. Nalgonda Municipal Commissioner D Devsingh speaking to TNIE said, “We have deployed employees to collect taxes. All taxes will be collected within one month.” 


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