Monday, June 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Haryana may reintroduce octroi
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, June 18 — The Haryana Government is not averse to reintroduction of octroi in the State provided the civic bodies adopt resolutions demanding the reintroduction of the levy which was abolished by the Chautala Government immediately after it came to power in July last.

This was stated by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, while presiding over a conference of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the civic bodies here today. He was reacting to a strong demand made by the participants for the reintroduction of octroi either on the old pattern or on the Punjab pattern where octroi is collected by private contractors.

Mr Chautala said his government had abolished octroi to restore dignity of the people by freeing them from a regressive tax. He also said that in case octroi was reintroduced the government could reconsider the controversial Local Area Development Tax.

Today’s conference was described as the first of its kind in the history of the State by the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Subash Goyal, who urged the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the civic bodies to express their views freely so that the functioning of these bodies could be up to the expectations of the people.

Mr Chautala, who announced a package of incentives for the local bodies, said the financial powers of the local bodies for undertaking developmental works would be enhanced from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. The individual financial powers of the Chairman would also be raised from Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000.

Now 4 per cent of the income from stamp duty will be given to the civic bodies instead of 3 per cent. The increase is expected to be Rs 5 crore per annum. The civic bodies were authorised to frame and utilise schemes up to Rs 3 lakh on their own even out of the government grants. This was announced by Mr Chautala after several Chairmen pointed out that Mr Bansi Lal had made them subservient to the SDMs and DCs from whom they had to seek the approval before implementing the schemes. Mr Chautala said the State Government would purchase fire-fighting equipment, including fire engines, for all the civic bodies, which would have to maintain them on their own. He directed the DCs who were also present on the occasion, to ensure that the arrears of house tax of government buildings were paid to the civic bodies without delay. The general public would be allowed to pay the arrears of their house tax in a time-bound manner and the interest on the arrears would also be waived on the pattern of arrears of power bills.

The civic bodies were allowed to auction shops or to convert leasehold commercial properties to freehold after fixation of market value. This move is likely to fetch local bodies substantial income.

Mr Chautala said he would urge the Union Petroleum Minister to get petrol pump allotted to each civic body so as to provide them an opportunity to add to their income.

He said the Slum Clearance Board would make the urban areas free from the slums. The development tax would also be levied on unauthorised colonies. The urban areas would be made free from encroachments and the land thus vacated would be given to the improvement trusts.

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