The fund-starved Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) on Thursday sought the help of elected representatives of the area to bolster revenue for the civic agency. For the past three years, it has not received any special grant from the federal or provincial government.
In a meeting with the RCB administration, Pakistan Muslim League-N MNA Malik Abrar Ahmed, MPA Malik Ifikhar Ahmed and MPA Chaudhry Muhammad Ayyaz agreed on bringing more commercial and residential units under the property tax net.
RCB Executive Officer Rana Manzoor Ahmed told media after the meeting that the civic body has been under severe financial stress after the federal government stopped tax collection from five marla houses. The board has also not received any annual grant for development projects from government for the last three years, he added.
“We have asked for help from the elected representatives to bring the residential areas of Siam and Chorr Harpal under the tax net,” Ahmed said.
Currently, there are over 64,000 taxable units and among these about 23,000 are commercial.
Among the rest, 35,000 of the residential units are of five marla or less and these houses were taken out of the tax net in 2007 when federal government gave them exemption, said Ahmed.
The board has decided to carry out a re-assessment of the tax net elected representatives and as many as 6,000 more units could be taxed, he added.
The RCB has been facing a shortfall of Rs300 million every year after the grants were stopped by the government and five marla units were given exemption, according to Ahmed.
MNA Malik Abrar said they had assured the board of their help in improving its financial condition and brushing up the techniques for making tax recoveries.
“Our main focus would be on commercial units, as rapid commercialisation has been seen in the cantonment areas for the last few years,” the MNA said.
The authorities in the meeting also resolved to make efforts to collect taxes on immovable property. At present, the RCB has been charging Rs200 per square yard (PSY) for residential units and Rs750 PSY for commercial units.
The executive officer said in the bid to make tax collection efficient, seven out of nine building inspectors had been put under inquiry for corruption complaints against them.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 21st, 2011.
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