The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) budget for the upcoming fiscal year will be over Rs27 billion with Rs12 billion set aside for various development schemes, The Express Tribune has learnt.
In the 2012-13 budget, most of the development funds will be used for building roads and bridges, and signal-free corridors as the city continues to struggle with the increasing traffic flow.
KMC Technical Services Director Altaf G Memon said that the proposal for around 28 infrastructure development schemes costing at least Rs7 billion has been sent to the government. Similarly, other city administration departments like health, parks and horticulture, and zoo have also sent their proposals for development projects.
“We want Rs5 billion under the Annual Development Programme and have also asked for Rs2 billion as part of the federal government’s Karachi Package,” said Karachi Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed.
The budget to be announced later this month is less than half of the Rs70.69 billion that was allocated in the previous year, when the city government was functional. However, that amount also included Rs26 billion for the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), which has now been made a separate entity.
KMC Finance Director Amir Khurshid told The Express Tribune that the budget has been reduced as quite a few departments have been shifted back to the provincial government after the revival of the Sindh Local Government Ordinance 1979.
For the KMC, a lot depends on the budgetary allocations made by the federal and provincial governments, as rising fuel prices and high inflation rate mean that more funds are spent on non-development expenditures. The organisation has around 26,400 employees.
While the shifting of departments has reduced the burden of staff at the KMC, the city administration is also facing losses in revenue. The domicile and weapons licence issuing authority that it had until last year meant income through the fees.
In the outgoing financial year, the city administration’s budget was Rs44.56 billion of which around Rs27.7 billion was injected by the government. It had targeted to raise Rs16.8 billion under the head of taxes, which included outdoor advertisements, entry fees at public parks, licence fee from butchers, and entertainment duty on musical events.
But the city administrator says that some of the revenue targets were exaggerated. “Under the local government ordinance, we were not allowed to have a deficit budget,” said Syed. “Development funding was linked with the capacity to increase our own revenue, so we had to inflate the numbers,” he admitted.
The upcoming budget, however, would give a clear idea of how much the KMC is actually capable of generating from its own sources, which are definitely not scarce. The corporation also has the support of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) this year. According to a senior official, the KDA will be able to raise Rs800 million under the tax heads of ground rent and non-utilisation.
Another addition to the budget would be the charges the KMC collects for providing municipal services – the rates of which vary according to the residence size. For instance, 80- to 120-square-yard houses would pay Rs150 per month, while 500-square-yard houses would pay Rs400 per month. Shops, including those inside shopping malls, are charged at a fixed rate of one rupee per square foot.
The KMC had targeted to collect Rs1 billion for municipal services in the outgoing fiscal year, but officials said that only a small amount was recovered.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2012.