Mumbaikars don’t have much to look forward to in the new financial year. The slump in the economy and phenomenal rise in salaries of MCGM employees mean the city will have no new projects. The silver lining is that there has been no tax increase. Despite economic slowdown, MCGM’s budget estimates for 2009-10 have soared to a humungous Rs 19,931.54 crore as compared to Rs 16,792 crore budget last year. While there have been no major projects announced in this years’ budget and there have been no taxes that have been increased, the latter could only be temporary. MCGM Commissioner Dr. Jairaj Phatak’s budget makes it clear that if the recessionary trend continues, civic taxes will be raised. While there was no mega announcement, last budget’s promises were repeated. So the MCGM says that it would improve water supply, concretize more roads and car parks, provide better healthcare, build more road and foot over-bridges and footpaths, and improve garbage collection. After presenting the budget, Dr. Jairaj Phatak admitted the focus was on completing projects taken up in the current year. Projects promoted by Shiv Sena leaders, like a wax museum at the Birla Kreeda Bhavan, beautifying traffic islands, and a memorial for leaders of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, have been cleared. While the MCGM could not use more than Rs. 2,320 Crore for infrastructure projects in the current year, it will spend Rs. 5,954.88 Crore on its employees next year. The corporation will avail internal loans of Rs. 3348.43 Crore, about Rs 400 crore more than last year, to strengthen the financial support system for capital works. A sum of Rs 400 crore has been set aside to upgrade overall security. The fire brigade is likely to get Rs 800 crore to buy advanced snorkels, cranes, fire engines, tankers, protective equipment and search-and-rescue material. From MCGM HQ with Ashok Jagtap, Sana Warsia – NMTV News.
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