Urban consumers set to pay more for power

CHANDIGARH: The state government has increased municipal tax from 5 paise per unit to 2 per cent of the total power bill to mobilise resources for the fund-starved municipalities across the state.

editorial@tribune.com

Pradeep Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3

The state government has increased municipal tax from 5 paise per unit to 2 per cent of the total power bill to mobilise resources for the fund-starved municipalities across the state.

“Since 2000, the power utilities had been charging municipal tax at 5 paise per unit, which has now been increased to 2 per cent of the total electricity bill. The enhanced municipal tax will go a long way in improving the financial health of the municipalities,” Urban Local Bodies Minister Kavita Jain said.

Sources said the higher rate of municipal tax would net more revenue for the municipalities, which had been grappling with resource crunch at a time when the Khattar government initiated major development projects in major cities and towns.

The municipal tax component of the power bills is channelised into the development projects by the state government in the areas falling in the municipal limits of the urban areas. With urbanisation in the urban areas growing at a rapid pace, massive investment is needed in the urban areas to provide basic amenities people and upgrade infrastructure in the state.

With a view to provide relief to the municipalities and improve their financial health, it has also been proposed to charge for streetlight bills at domestic rates instead of commercial rates. “A proposal to this effect has been necessitated in view of use of streetlights in larger public interest,” Jain asserted.

Officials told The Tribune that since the new proposal would have effect on the overall power tariff, a formal approval from the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) might be obtained before implementing to avoid legal complications.

The new proposal is likely to give fresh ammunition to the Opposition to put the BJP government on the mat in the ensuing Budget Session of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha beginning February 27. The Khattar government is likely face the heat from the Opposition parties for its alleged attempt to tax the urban people ahead of the Budget to be presented in the first week of March.

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