Smelling a scam of sorts in the cess department of NMMC that has always been under the scanner, the members and Chairman of NMMC Standing Committee came down heavily on the administration that seemed to be purposely leaving loopholes for cess evasion. Catch the details with a report from the first day of budget discussions from NMMC. The first point that all members raised against the cess department of NMMC was that the department was showing only 3% hike in cess collections in the proposed NMMC budget of 2010 – 2011. Overlooking all factors of inflation and levying cess on new products, the NMMC Cess Department has shown an expected revenue of Rs. 299 Crore, while the revenue can be much higher than this. Members gave all the avenues from where the NMMC Cess Dept. can increase their collection and hence revenue. The biggest source that is not being tapped being APMC Market – members said that there nearly 11, 700 merchants at APMC however NMMC has hardly brought 2200 under their cess net. Shivram Patil questioned the Cess Dept. to inform the members about the total number of merchants in APMC to which, DMC of Cess Mahadev Pendhari had no reply. Exposing the Cess Dept. Shivram Patil said that this is the fourteenth budget and the cess dept. does not have the survey list of merchants at APMC yet. To this in a rather irresponsible manner, DMC Pendhari confidently replied said that even a survey would not give much increase to cess. While DMC of Cess Dept. Mahadev Pendhari is sending individual notices to already tax paying citizens in the name of cess on cars and others, the DMC did not have the number of merchants or a survey list, which hints at a scam of sorts. At this point Chairman Sandeep Naik questioned how many assessments of cess dept. are pending, to which DMC Pendhari said the number is as high as 72000. MLA Sandeep Naik said that if the dept. does not send notices then how will the get defaulters under the net. Namdeo Bhagat said that it was during the tenure of former DMC Pardesi that a lot of misappropriation of taxes were reported due to which Pardesi was transferred. Now the new cess Chief Pendhari too is taking a lot of media mileage for sending notices to personalities like Sachin Tendulkar. However, the department should also reply what is the outcome or revenue collection made after sending the notices or are these just publicity stunts. After listening to the reckless and irresponsible replies of DMC Pendhari, MLA Sandeep Naik said that the Commissioner was giving better replies than Pendhari and perhaps he should take a lead to improving the efficiency of the cess dept. Speaking to the media later, MLA Sandeep Naik informed that they had also pointed out to the administration that a of large industries were availing a blanket SEZ, IT and ITes exemptions from payment of cess, when they were actually liable to pay cess. He said that big companies and multi-national companies were using the infrastructure being provided by NMMC, hence cess should be collected from them. He said that the administration had giving a 3% hike, but the members want to increase this target. Members have also suggested outsourcing of assessments in cess depts. or atleast do random audit. He said that e-governance should be incorporated in cess dept. for transparency. MLA Sandeep Naik said that human error is possible but systems do not fail. However just how seriously the administration took the suggestions of the members was evident in the casual approach of the NMMC Commissioner Vijay Nahata who said that such allegations are part of such meetings and voiced satisfaction on revenue collected. Couple of days back DMC Mahadev Pendhari was boasting of getting a ISO certification for their systematic work in the cess dept. but the Standing Committee budget discussions have put a question mark on the credibility of the certification. With Satish Garud, Monika Bhosale for NMTV News.
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