The Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) on Thursday approved its first tax-free budget worth Rs1.657 billion for six months (January to June).
The elected house met with Sajjad Khan in the chair. Mayor Sardar Naseem and RMC Chief Municipal Officer Sardar Tashfeen were also present.
Soon after the mayor presented the budget, 62 members approved it by a voice vote. Three opposition members present on the occasion did not oppose the budget.
In his speech, the mayor informed the members that Rs875.389 million had been allocated for the development schemes which would equally be divided among all the treasury and opposition members.
Mayor says Rs875.389m allocated for development schemes will equally be divided among all members
“We presented a tax-free budget and allocate a hefty amount for the development of the city on the directions of the PML-N leadership who wanted to provide civic facilities to the citizens and upgrade their living standard,” he said.
Out of the total Rs1.657 billion budget, Rs848.641 million are available in the accounts of the defunct Rawal Town Municipal Administration (RTMA) and Rs808.565 million will be received from other sources, he said.
The city’s major source of income is property tax share worth Rs135.4 million. Besides, Rs185 million would be received from taxes on immoveable property and Rs180 as a share from the Punjab Finance Commission. An amount of Rs1.469 million is expected from parking fees, Rs13.94 million from building plan fees, Rs10 million from commercialisation, Rs7.675 million from building violation charges, Rs3.4 from the slaughterhouse, R46 million from rent of property owned by the RMC and Rs8.8 million from the Pirwadhai general bus stand.
For non-development expenditures, the mayor said, the RMC allocated Rs446.8 million for the salaries of its employees, Rs240 million for utility bills and office expenditures etc.
An amount of Rs63.9 million was allocated for 55 ongoing and Rs480 million for 214 new development projects.
The house also gave approval to the by-laws under the Local Government Act 2013 to change the name of Rawal Town Municipal Corporation to Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation, restore all taxes, fees, rates and charges introduced in the Local Government Ordinance 2001 till the formation of new laws and merging of the building and enforcement departments as well as dividing the area of RMC in eight sectors.
Temporary resident ordinance criticised
The RMC decided to summon senior police officers to the mayor office for an explanation on the arrest of tenants and landlords under the Punjab Information of Temporary Resident Ordinance 2015.
Members belonging to the treasury said the police were arresting innocent citizens after rejecting personal verifications done by the elected members.
Malik Waseem of the PML-N alleged that the police were using the law against innocent people and getting Rs500 to Rs1,000 from each tenant who failed to submit their details to the police station concerned.
“The police should consider the verification of a landlord and their tenant by the union council chairman concerned as he is the elected representative of the area,” he said.
Upon this, Sajjad Khan suggested that a resolution should be passed so that the police officers would be summoned to the mayor office to resolve such matters.
Resolution to remove encroachments around Lal Haveli
Soon after the approval of the budget, the house witnessed a rumpus over remarks by opposition member Sheikh Rashid Shafique, the nephew of AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
He questioned the freezing of the union council accounts and alleged that the mayor had stopped RMC officials from doing any work in his union council.
However, Mayor Sardar Naseem denied the allegation. “I distributed equal funds among all the union councils without any discrimination,” he said.
All the treasury bench members rose from their seats and passed a resolution to remove barriers installed on the main road in front of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s Lal Haveli, terming it an encroachment.
The house asked the RMC officials to remove the barriers from the Bohar Bazaar in front of Lal Haveli.
Yasin, Aamir. Tax-free budget for Pindi city approved. Dawn, March 3, 2017.