The Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka, D K Shivakumar, on Wednesday (21 June) made a controversial statement regarding the payment of property taxes in Bengaluru. He admitted to declaring "less than the actual" area when declaring his own properties.
Shivakumar stated, "... so, when declaring my properties, I declare less than the actual (area). Such things are there. People like us too are committing a lot of mistakes. All this should be streamlined."
The Bengaluru Development Minister's comments were made after the launch of a new website called 'Brand Bengaluru.' The website aims to gather suggestions from citizens to improve the city of Bengaluru.
In response to a question about raising the revenue for Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Shivakumar highlighted that many people were not paying property taxes.
He suggested that people should pay based on the built-up area and that the self-assessment scheme introduced by BBMP needs to be analysed to determine its effectiveness.
He also mentioned that some people are not allowing officials to enter buildings to verify the declarations made in the self-assessment scheme.
Shivakumar revealed that the government is using satellite data to map all buildings, going on to admit that he had himself under-assessed the extent of tax liable to BBMP.
The civic agency has struggled to collect property tax due to undervalued properties. However, there has been an increase in revenue collection from Rs 3,033 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 3,758 crore in 2022-23. The revenue collection target for the 2023-24 fiscal year is Rs 4,412 crore.
The BBMP implemented a self-assessment scheme and began physically verifying the total area of some commercial properties. The agency aimed to increase its revenue through this exercise.
Shivakumar hinted at the possibility of increasing taxes, stating that stakeholders in Bengaluru had suggested it. He mentioned the idea of introducing solid waste charges of Rs 50 or Rs 100. He noted that different states follow various practices, and many citizens have shown interest in the idea of paying a small fee to ensure timely waste collection.
He also stated that the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) has not increased water rates since 2014, which has impacted its ability to undertake new projects for providing water to Bengaluru.
He further added that the power bill dues of BWSSB, after discounts, amounted to Rs 99 crore.
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