Business Bureau: New Delhi: Sunday, February 12, 2017.
In this era of globalisation, privatisation and decentralisation, the financial management of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) has assumed many new dimensions, said CA Julfesh Shah, Member of National Economic Advisory Committee, ICAI, New Delhi in the meeting of the committee held recently.
The unprecedented pace of urbanisation and rapid transformation of urban lifestyles over the last few years has put unforeseen demands on urban infrastructure and finance, he said.
“ULBs need to optimise their revenues and other resources through innovative taxation, user charges and the newer avenues of public-private-partnership. With the onset of decentralisation and devolution, the ULBs also need to revamp their budgeting processes to meet the expectation of bottom-up planning,” he added. Shah further said, an effective financial management of the municipal corporations is the need of the hour which involves very important activities of planning, sourcing, utilising, disbursing, controlling and reporting. “Budgeting should be realistic and relevant and it must periodically receive feedback from the other departments,” he stated. To augment the revenue of urban local bodies, various measures can be initiated like introduction of Density Based Property Tax, Congestion Tax for entry into over-commercialised city, cordon area congestion pricing, developing PPP models, use of information technology to improve the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness,” Shah said. CA Atul Gupta, Chairman of the Committee expressed that in the new scenario, ULBs also stand more accountable to their citizens and taxpayers.
“They are already the preferred targets of queries under the RTI Act and they need to get more proactive in disclosing their financial information as a step towards greater transparency. Social audit, public hearings, citizens’ report cards are effective tools for this purpose,” he said.
The citizens’ charters can greatly help in making the ULB management more people-centric.
A preliminary research study report on ‘How to augment the revenue of ULBs’ has been prepared by the National Economic Advisory Committee.
The report will soon be submitted to Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu and Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari. The preliminary research study report will also be send to all the municipal corporations and ULBs of India. CA Murli Krishna Murthy from Hyderabad, CA Pankaj Kapoor from Ludhiana, CA Nipurn Gupta from New Delhi, Secretary CA Ashish Bhansali and other members were present.