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MMC budget is a mixed bag: Some mistakes, some old expenses out, some new ones in

Even though the Margao Municipal Council deferred discussion on the budget on Monday as it was given late to the councilors, the budget given to the changes decided upon at the Standing Committee meeting are not incorporated.In the first place the much touted Disaster Management Fund for which Rs. 15 lakhs was claimed to be allotted, does not reflect on the budget papers at all. Besides, the budget papers project receipt of Rs. 5,000 from slaughter house when it should be nil as MMC has no slaughter house.Chief Officer Johnson Fernandes admitted that there were some mistakes and the decisions of the Standing Committee which should have been incorporated in the budget papers before they were presented to the councilors was not done.Another glaring mistake is the head “fees from impounded cattle” that shows Rs. 6 lakhs for the present year and is projected to be Rs. 7 lakhs for the next year. However, this is inclusive of the income received from impounded kiosks and gaddas. Johnson admitted the need to have a separate head for income received from impounding kiosks and gaddas.MMC has dropped some heads which have become irrelevant with the passage of times. Tax on concerts, films, etc,; tax on vehicles and animals; tax on dogs have been dropped. MMC will not collect the tax on dogs as that is now the responsibility of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services.
Similarly the head “sale of plates/tokens” under which Rs. 25,000 was expected for the current year but nothing has been received, has also been dropped. “We are not issuing the House No. plates anymore nor are we giving the tokens for dog tax and hence this head has been removed,” said Johnson.As there is nil projection for “overtime allowance” it means that MMC employees will not be paid any overtime for the next financial year. “Under the new pay scale that is in force, the workers are not entitled to get any overtime and hence we have not provided for it,” said Johnson.The budget does not show any provision for “removal of prickly pear and rank vegetation” which is actually clearing the road side bushes and wild growth in the open spaces. However the council will carry out this work but the expenditure incurred towards it will be shown under a different head.And though the MMC does not have an exact figure of the number of public/community wells it has provided a sum of Rs. 6 crores for the next year to clean such wells even though nothing was spent to clean wells this year. “Any well even if in private property but whose water is used by the neighbours or locals is considered to be a public well,” said Johnson.And even though the council has not received any income from the mobile towers for the current year, it is expecting Rs. 60 lakhs in the next year. That is because notices have been sent to pay the amount to the MMC and many have agreed to do so.The council has also provided Rs. 10 lakhs for cattle pound keeper and Rs. 50,000 to provide feed for animals probably because as chairperson Dr Babita Prabhudessai told Doris Texeira “the council plans to set up a proper cattle pound next year”. Currently it has a cattle pound behind the MMC garage at Old market.Johnson expressed happiness that they have been able to prepare a surplus budget and pointed out that including the opening balance the surplus works out to Rs 64,53,98,011. [H]

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