Santa Cruz wants house tax to stay


With the panchayat authorities revealing that the Santa Cruz Panchayat coffers have run dry, the villagers resolved that the house tax should not be abolished but should be retained.
Moving the resolution at the Gram Sabha on Sunday, Reggie Gomes said the house tax should be retained for two reasons, that it is the right of the house owner to pay the house tax and secondly it is mandatory to collect house tax so that it could be used for village development.
Earlier, Sarpanch Tony Fernandes said the villagers have stopped paying house tax ever since the government announced its abolition. “But, the panchayat has still not received any notification in this regard,” he said and added that when the Director of Panchayats was quizzed over the issue, it was only informed that they are currently undertaking the process of categorizing households according to their social status and only then the notification will be issued.
When the villagers sought information on the future developmental activities to be undertaken in the village, Fernandes replied that there are none in the pipeline since the panchayat is short of funds.
However, during the presentation of the budget, Panchayat Secretary Babu Naik showed the opening balance as Rs 25 lakh which was objected to by the villagers who sought to know how on one hand the panchayat says it is bankrupt and on the other hand shows that it has Rs 25 lakh in its coffers.
The row was resolved only after the intervention of the sarpanch who assured that he will correct the discrepancies in the budget.
The issue of Special Status to Goa was also discussed at length with Reggie Gomes resolving that the State should be given Special Status under Article 371 (i) of the Indian Constitution so that Goa’s unique identity is not lost due to hordes of in-migration.
Manuel Fernandes, however, stated that for a Special Status to be granted, a resolution to this effect has to be first passed in the Assembly. “Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has assured that he will take up the issue in the upcoming Budget Session in March,” he informed while adding that Goa needs a Special Status on the lines of Mizoram and Nagaland. [H]