Kochi corporation, which had been facing severe financial crisis for the past several months, has finally managed to increase its revenue by many folds. The revenue collection, which was between Rs.3 crore to Rs.5 crore in six preceding months, has increased to Rs.17 crore in September.
Corporation authorities said they adopted different means to enhance the revenue. “We contacted landowners residing abroad and asked them to pay property tax. We sent the account details of corporation secretary to such NRIs and they remitted the sums to the account,” mayor Soumini Jain said, adding that many tax payers were even willing to remit the tax even in advance.
A few months back, corporation’s financial crisis had reached such a proportion that the authorities found it difficult to even pay the salaries of employees.
“Following the lockdown, most of the tax payers had stopped payment. They were not ready to visit the corporation office for the purpose. This resulted in severe financial crisis,” deputy mayor K R Premakumar said.
“So, we mooted a plan for enhancing revenue collection. We gave training for our staff on how to expedite revenue collection even while following covid-19 protocol. List of defaulters were prepared. Specific officials were given the responsibility of collecting tax and arrears from particular areas. This yielded results and tax collection started to increase. In September, we could collect a revenue of more than Rs.17 crore,” Premakumar added.
Around 35 bill collectors were given instructions to conduct field visits and collect taxes. Many of the big defaulters paid their dues when the corporation officials approached them. In September, local body authorities could mop up close to Rs.2 crore from big tax payers in Edappally zone alone.
A private healthcare institution in the area paid more than Rs 40 lakh towards clearing their tax arrears. “We will continue with the stringent measures in the coming months too,” the deputy mayor said.
Contractors strike demanding their dues had stalled implementation of projects of the corporation. “Contractors bills to the tune of Rs.2.5 crore was cleared on Thursday. It will come to around one month’s dues to the contractors. Now, we will request the contractors to call off the strike. Then, we will give an additional sum towards the payment of the arrears we owe to them,” Premakumar said. According to contractors, the civic body owes them around Rs 100 crore.