Pune: The financial condition of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has been critical for the past few years. The civic administration has not been able to achieve set revenue targets to carry out various development projects. Nevertheless, the budgetary allocations of the PMC have always remained inflated. Moreover, there has always been a major gap between the revenue target and the actual income of the PMC.
According to data provided by the office of chief accountant of the PMC, for the past five years between 2012-13 and 2016-17, there was a gap of around Rs 5,284.65 crore between the revenue target and the actual income. This was revealed in a reply to a question raised by senior Congress corporator Aba Bagul to discuss the issue in the PMC general body meeting.
For the past few years, the municipal commissioners and the standing committee chairpersons also kept boasting about presenting a realistic budget. In fact, all of them had presented inflated budgets as compared to the preceding years.
The budget presented for the fiscal 2012-13 was
Rs 3,633.02 crore but the civic administration managed to collect only Rs 2,962.14 crore. For 2013-14, the budget presented amounted to Rs 4,167.50 crore while the PMC could mop up revenue worth Rs 2,962.14 crore, which was less than by Rs 1,205.36 crore.
The same trend continued for the next three years also, when the PMC had many important development projects like Pune metro rail, river front development, round-the-clock water supply, carrying out various developments at hospitals and maternity homes run by the PMC, etc.
For 2014-15, a budget of Rs 4,150.02 crore was presented while the revenue collected was Rs 3,325.76 crore. For fiscal year 2015-16, the revenue target and actual income were Rs 4,479.50 crore and Rs 4,037.33 crore, respectively. During 2015-16, the property tax department of the PMC managed to recover the long-pending dues. So, the revenue collection was good.
The building permission department of the PMC has not been able to generate revenue due to a slowdown in the real estate market. Yet, the budgetary allocation was inflated by introducing various public welfare schemes to appease citizens.
When contacted, RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said an inflated budget and the civic administration failing to achieve the revenue target is a vicious cycle. “Most of the times, just to impress citizens, new schemes are introduced. But these schemes do not see the light of the day due to the shortage of funds,” Kumbhar said.
“Whether it is a civic chief or the standing committee chairman, they should take the stock of the situation as to how much revenue the PMC can collect and present the budget as per the revenue collection only, instead of just dangling a carrot of new schemes,” he added.