The residents of Tripunithura have voiced their protest against the move of the municipal authorities to impose five percent building tax surcharge for raising funds for ‘Athagosham 2013’.
At present, the week-long festival is being conducted with the funds obtained through sponsorship of various commercial and private organisations in the area.
According to the people, the proposed surcharge is an unnecessary measure as several organisations and private companies are always willing to sponsor the events related to the festival.
“Moreover, the local body raises over Rs 6 crore as building tax every year. With tax revision by the state government, the revenue has steeply increased to Rs 13 crore. If surcharge is imposed, the municipality can generate an additional revenue of Rs 65 lakh. But, the fact remains that the total cost of the ‘Athagosham’ never exceeds more than Rs 25 lakh,” said V P Prasad, chairman of Tripunithura Rajanagari Union of Residents Association. They said the local body had no legal right to impose the surcharge. “The municipality can impose surcharge only to raise 50 percent fund for a project. In the case of Athagosham, they could not even collect that amount as the festival is not a municipal project. The new decision will only help to add the financial burden on the residents,” said a TRURA member.
The residents alleged that the municipal authorities have not been publishing the audit details of the festival despite the fact that they have been raising huge money from advertisements every year.
“Contarary to the normal auditing system followed by the local bodies and other organisation, the festival committee members conduct auditing and keep the details secret. The government auditors and public are clueless about the real cost for conducting the festival,” he added.
The public said they had already submitted a memorandum against the surcharge before 48 councillors in the municipality. “If they implement the decision, we will initiate protest measures,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Tripunithura Municipal authorities said they are yet take any final decision in this regard.
“Hosting the week-long traditional festival is a Herculean task. We have been doing it sincerely for the past several years. We keep all documents to prove that there is no misappropriation in spending money. We will never implement the proposal if people object the move. Such a move will be implemented only after conducting meeting with public representatives,” he said.