The deficit in the treasury of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has now raised a political storm after a notice was put up in the civic body headquarters today ‘regretting’ that pensions could not be paid to its employees who superannuated from September 2021 due to the fund crisis. Though the mayor, Firhad Hakim, has admitted a Rs. 1000 crore deficit, he rejected the authenticity of the notice and initiated an investigation.
The KMC had in the past week announced a host of initiatives that were mainly aimed at expediting the process of tax collection where there is a substantial amount of dues. Today, however, the deficit in its treasury raised a political storm when the notice was spotted, put up at the civic body’s headquarters at the SN Banerjee Road. It read that the civic body regrets it was not going to be able to disburse pensions, or pensionary benefits, to those employees who have superannuated from September 2021 due to a “crisis of fund”.
The mayor Firhad Hakim, who presided over a KMC meeting at the Town Hall in the city today, however, has denied the authenticity of the notice concerned. He denied that it was put up by the civic body and assured that an investigation has been initiated.
Mr Hakim admitted, though not for the first time, the KMC is reeling under a deficit of Rs 1000 crore which has apparently impacted the functioning of the civic body. He, however, assured that pensions are being disbursed to those who are entitled to it but there are some issues concerning the processing of payments in some cases which will also be solved.
The BJP leader Shyamik Bhattacharya took a jibe at the state government and said it was evident that the state is buried under massive amounts of debt which has also reflected on the KMC. His comments come in the wake of the West Bengal government borrowing Rs 3,000 crore from the open market on Monday, which is the third time the state government has borrowed money.
The civic body last week announced that it is now starting a WhatsApp Bot facility so people can deposit their property taxes and the dues relating to it on time via the mobile app while Mr. Hakim announced that no longer will people need a clearance certificate to get their property assessed and can instead submit a self-declaration and get it assessed and subsequently pay the taxes.
He had also warned that for all vacant and unassessed properties whose owners are untraceable, the KMC will take over the plot and install a signboard declaring it now belongs to the civic body. The owner of such properties can reclaim their plots by first getting their properties assessed and then paying the tax for it.
These initiatives have clearly indicated the urgency with which the KMC requires an inflow of funds. The concern has also been highlighted by some of the departmental officials who on the condition of anonymity admitted that the financial crunch has dealt a blow to the functioning of the corporation.