PANAJI: The government has emerged as the single largest house tax defaulter in the capital city, with the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) yet to collect the related arrears amounting Rs 7 crore.
Admitting that the state government as well as the central government have not paid house tax to the Corporation towards their office and residential premises in the capital city for long, CCP Commissioner Deepak Desai said that the city civic body finds it difficult to seal the particular premises. “We are, however, trying to recover the house tax arrears by introducing modern technology,” he added, informing that the CCP has also asked a Delhi-based agency to prepare its credit rating so that the Corporation exactly knows its financial status.
A credit rating is an evaluation of the credit risk of a prospective debtor – an individual, a business, a company or a government – predicting their ability to pay back the debt, and an implicit forecast of the likelihood of the debtor defaulting.
Maintaining that the citizens, in general, regularly pay their house tax, the CCP Commissioner informed that those who have no intention to deceive the CCP on house tax but cannot spare time to visit the Corporation office to pay the same would now be facilitated by way of related latest technology. “We are in the process of introducing online payment of house tax, as well as coming out with a house tax app, now that many corporate houses including banks are ready to sponsor such an app,” he added, observing that once such facilities are introduced, the citizens would find it easier to pay their house tax.
It may be recalled that the accumulated house tax arrears of the CCP had stood at Rs 15 crore, with the former CCP commissioner proposing to form a special squad for recovering the same. The situation has, however, improved now, with the Corporation already recovering Rs 8 crore out of this amount.
Speaking further, the CCP Commissioner said that although the financial position of the CCP has improved since the days in the past when the civic body was forced to break its fixed deposits to pay staff salary, the financial aid from the government is hard to come.
The Corporation has not received salary grants from the department of municipal administration since last three years, it was informed, further maintaining that the CCP receives once-in-a-year grant-in-aid including its octroi share from the government. The other major sources of revenue for the Corporation are house tax, construction licences, occupancy certificates, advertisement boards and banners, and so on.
The CCP Commissioner also maintained that the Corporation presently has fixed deposits amounting Rs 30 crore, including Rs 20 crore belonging to the Employees Provident Fund. “We also have a little above Rs 7 crore deposited in various banks,” he stated, pointing out that the Corporation further has reserve fund, which can be utilised during the time of emergency, for paying staff salaries up to a period of three months.