16.3.20 – Memorandum to BBMP on Budget for 2020-2021

CIVIC was invited to submit it’s suggestions for the oncoming budget by BBMP for the year 2020-21. CIVIC made the following main suggestions, besides stressing on the importance of meeting SDGs, Social Infrastructure, Performance Measurement and Decentralization:

1. Put an end to unrealistic budgets: BBMP has been framing unrealistic budgets year after year and achievement is less than 60%. This has to be avoided by framing budgets based on actual achievement in the previous year.

2. Follow principles in KLFAFR Act: BBMP should follow the principles enunciated in the Karnataka Local Fund Authorities’ Fiscal Responsibility Act (KLFAFRA) and prepare budgets that prioritise human welfare and not on non-essentials.

3. Prepare Medium-Term Fiscal Plan: BBMP should prepare a Medium-Term Fiscal Plan with a rolling budget as required under KLFAFRA and spell out the rationale for its budget policies at two public consultations, along with putting its Annual Report and audited statements every year in public domain.

4. Avoid over-stating incomes: BBMP budgets reveal a yearly overstatement of income. The 2018-19 income estimates were revised from Rs 10,129 crore to Rs 7,379 crore in July 2019, three months after the end of the financial year. Thus the BBMP sanctions works on the basis of these unrealistic estimates, which results in giving false hopes and making false promises to citizens.

5. Plug loopholes that lead to revenue leakages: In 2017-18, the BBMP collected only Rs 2,384 crore, 56% of the estimated Rs 4,266 crore and only Rs 1,589 crore of property tax against the target of Rs 2,600 crore. This results in BBMP not achieving the potential revenues which would make BBMP more self-reliant. Strengthen data-base of properties by using GIS technology.

6. Cut discretionary grants: Too much money is earmarked for discretionary grants, the expenditures under which are totally opaque and not based on actual people’s needs as expressed through citizens’ ward plans.