THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With tax collection coming to a standstill due to the pandemic, the city corporation is struggling to take up road works and a slew of other civic projects using its own fund. According to officials, the pandemic has put brakes on the collection of tax and non-tax revenue which are the major income sources of the local body. The flow of funds towards various development projects from the state and the Centre has also slowed down.
Officials say the civic body has exhausted its fund mostly for election-related works and inaugurations. It is learnt that fund to the tune of `30 crore was spent on various projects and inaugurations ahead of the local body and assembly elections, putting the civic body in a tight spot.With pressure mounting, the corporation has requested the state government to release more funds to meet the expenditure of various emergency works. A senior official of the engineering wing said they can continue the work proposed under the plan fund. “Recently, several emergency works have come up, especially road maintenance and tarring. There is a direction from the higher authorities to take up only emergency work,” said the official.
As many as 200 emergency road maintenances and tarring works have been taken up by the civic body, which would be tabled in the next council for approval. Works standing committee chairman D R Anil said the civic body is expecting a plan fund to the tune of `120 crore from the state and the Centre.“We have decided to complete the emergency maintenance work of roads by August 20. There are a lot of financial constraints because of low revenue collection. Our expenditure is around `110 crore while revenue collection is only around `20 crore. This will reflect in our performance as we will be able to undertake only essential and emergency work,” said Anil.
Property tax, professional tax, entertainment tax and advertisement tax are some of the major sources of revenue of the local body. “The government has given an exemption for rentals from the municipal property because of the pandemic. However, there is no respite in the expenditure. Works worth `20 crore were implemented ahead of the elections and around `10 crore was spent on conducting the election, inaugural events etc,” said a senior official of the civic body.
The civic body has written to the state planning board, local self-government department and finance department to release more funds under the People’s Plan Programme. “If everything goes smoothly, we are aiming to increase plan fund expenditure. Last financial year we were able to utilise 74 per cent of the plan fund. This year we are planning to utilise more,” the official added.
Revenue hit due to the pandemic
Corporation’s own fund was utilised for election-related works
C20 crore for ahead of elections
C10 crore for conducting the election
200 emergency road maintenances and tarring works are taken up by the corporation
C120 crore expected from the state and the Centre governments