HYDERABAD: On an average, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) gives out 1,000 building permissions a month. But new assessments of property tax hardly reach 100 a month, meaning less than 10% of property owners are registering to pay property tax in the entire Greater Hyderabad area.
GHMC commissioner had announced the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme on July 1, urging property owners who have not got assessments done so far to do so before August 31. The commissioner had warned that if anybody was found to have not assessed their property after the due date, he/she would have to pay three years tax apart from interest on the arrears. However, the scheme has seen poor response, with only 93 property owners coming forward so far.
Officials have now started analyzing what went wrong in the system. “Going by the number of building applications, the number of new assessments should be at least 1,000 per month. Apart from these permissions, there are high-rises, both commercial and residential, where the number of units is more and hence assessments should be more. But, only 10 per cent of the building applications are being assessed a month,” a senior GHMC official said. But another official blamed the lack of publicity of the scheme. “The GHMC announced the scheme but did not publicize it. As a result, many property owners are not aware of it,” the official said.
Sources in the GHMC said that as many as 14,885 building permissions were given in 2012-13 and another 3,500 in the past two months. Comparatively, the total permissions given were only 10,221 in 2011-12. In the LB Nagar circle, which is one of the fastest developing areas, over 1,500 property owners had obtained permission to construct buildings in the last one year, but only 88 applications were received for property tax assessment since November 2012. Similarly, over 1,000 buildings were permitted in Kukatpally circle during 2012-13, but only 126 property owners/builders chose to get their property assessed.
Though nearly 13.10 lakh properties were assessed in the city, GHMC officials suspect that at least 3 lakh more are pending due to various reasons, including collusion between corporation staff and property owners. This has made a huge dent in the revenue collection. The corporation has now begun a survey to bring unassessed properties into the tax net by using geographical information system .
When contacted, GHMC additional commissioner ( finance) admitted that there was poor response to the voluntary disclosure scheme. “The tax wing staff could not concentrate on the scheme as they were busy with revision and verification of electoral rolls till July 15,” he added.