AP govt burdening people with arbitrary decisions

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy
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Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy

Highlights

The government of Andhra Pradesh with its brutal majority can do wonders in terms of developing the state as well as the per capita income of its subjects

The government of Andhra Pradesh with its brutal majority can do wonders in terms of developing the state as well as the per capita income of its subjects. The scene all over is marked by crippling issues caused by Covid 19. Livelihood issues are predominant among the daily wage earning section and even middle class is not spared. Added to this is the callous attitude of the government at the Centre turning Nelson's eye to the sharply growing cost of essential commodities including petrol and gas.

In a situation of this sort the government of Andhra Pradesh is pushing through a new Tax regime of assessing property tax based on capital value (Value of land and building as per the books of Registration department) instead of the present system of taking rental value as base. There is no issue in seeking nominal hike in tax as there is need for increase in developmental activities. But the change being brought about in the system of assessing tax is the main issue.

Going by the notifications issued by various municipal corporations and councils even at the rate of hike, in spite of hike being capped to around 0.15 per cent, the increase is calculated to be around six times of the existing one. The concerned Minister repeatedly asserts that the hike will not be more than 15 per cent of the existing one. If his statement is true then why this new regime is the predominant question prevailing in the minds of all. 15 per cent hike is just to start with but once the new regime comes in vogue there will be automatic increase corresponding to the hike in the book value of the property in the books of the Registration Department, where upward revision is a periodical one.

Added to this is the levy of user charges for lighting, water, dust bin collection and drainage water. These are directly connected to the health and sanitation and providing them is one of the basic duty of the government. They also form part of the Fundamental Right enshrined in the Constitution as Right to Live. Dust bin collection is an income generating activity, if properly planned. The dust provided by people is the main raw material to manufacture various articles under mass production. Expecting people to give raw materials and also pay charge lacks logic or rationality. Municipal administrations can plan to set of wind power generating units to take care of perennial power supply at a very nominal cost. Another disturbing aspect in this issue is that the entire activity is being pushed through so arbitrarily. The state Assembly passed three legislations pertaining to this which were turned down by the Legislative Council. Still instead of taking the spirit taking the advantage in the system the Assembly passed it again to bypass the Council. The Municipal administration also rushed through with the process even though there were no elected bodies in force. The notifications issued by Municipal administrations are not publicised enough for the subjects to know and react with their views and suggestions. In many places even the request for public hearings are turned down. It is also said that failing to abide by the provisions will attract punitive measures also. The fact known to all in this regard is that the highly fund crunched State of AP seeks to avail overdraft facility from the Central reserves. The Central Government for its part to add chilly to the wound makes it mandate to implement such regime to avail funds. It is a blatant coercion which should have been outright rejected by the State Government with its superb majority in the Assembly.

Instead it has meekly bowed down against the interest of its subjects in general and voters in particular. The comedy is that the party in the ruling in the Center, being the crux of the issue, is protesting against the imposition of this new regime in the State. It is for them to explain whether it is to confuse the people or playing with their ignorance.

It is high time to consider the cry of the public to do away with this new regime and effect reasonable hike in property tax under the old system of assessing tax on rental value. Considering such reasonable appeals of the people will go a long way in reposing more confidence on the government. People may view such arbitrary impositions as worse than Corona virus. The good image being enjoyed by the Chief Minister with his Navrathna scheme is likely to be washed out with such arbitrary impositions, which may be reconsidered by the concerned.

— A G Rajmohan, Anantapur

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