Cash crunch stifles BMC in pre-election budget

It’s a catch-22 situation for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which is presenting its budget for 2016-17 on Wednesday.

On the one hand is the cash crunch, which demands that it go in for a no-frills budget, while on the other is the political pressure for populist decisions, since it’s the last budget for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine before the civic body goes to polls.

The civic body has been able to use only 25% of the total funds meant for the projects for the city, allocated in last budget, and is going through revenue deficit.

The other major source of income for the BMC was premium on fungible FSI. The civic body has earned a revenue of Rs.1,600 crore from the fungible FSI in 2015-16. It was Rs.1,850 crore the previous year.

Sources also revealed that lack of administrative management in execution of the projects and red-tapeism have resulted in projects stuck either half way or not taken off at all.

While it was projected that the civic body will use more than Rs. 7,618.11 crore for the projects for the city, the departments hardly used Rs 1,965.02 crore, that translates into a mere 25.79%.

Considering that civic election is slated in February 2017, the focus of the ruling combine will be not to tax the voter more. The announcements will be populist and targets achievable. Though the Mumbai city is not included in the first list of ‘Smart Cities’, the projects envisaged for the ‘Smart City’ will be included in the budgetary estimates.