Govt to tax properties
Opposition Protests, Stages Walkout
Jammu, Mar 31: Amid uproarious scenes with en-masse walkout by entire opposition and stiff disagreement by members, the state government Thursday passed the controversial law imposing tax on all kinds of properties falling within the municipal limits.
The Bills, Jammu and Kashmir Municipal (Amendment) Act 2000 and Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act-2000, besides one more Bill to establish a Property Tax Board, were passed with voice-vote with only members from treasury benches available to consent the passage.
With the passage of the amendments, the government devised a new tax regime in the state to impose property tax on commercial as well as residential structures in the cities and towns.
As per the new law, the state government will impose tax on commercial and residential properties across the state. While 10 percent tax will be levied on all commercial properties, 4 percent tax would be imposed on residential properties falling within the Municipal Corporations of Srinagar and Jammu. However, lands upto 10 marlas and residential construction thereon is exempted from tax.
In Municipal Committees only commercial properties will be charged tax with maximum ceiling up to 3 percent. The commercial properties in Municipal Councils will be charged upto 7 percent while residential properties up to maximum of 3 percent.
While the opposition members were on their feet to oppose the bill, the House also dropped the amendments brought in by PDP members Choudhary Zulfikar and Basharat Bukhari.
The bill to amend Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act-2000, Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation Act-2000 was earlier referred to the House Select Committee, which in its report had suggested certain changes in the legislation. The Select Committee was also divided over the issue and three out of around seven members had reportedly refused to sign the recommendations.
After the Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand introduced the bill, PDP member Abdul Rehman Veeri accused the government of bringing a ‘draconian’ and `anti-poor’ law, which will put added burden on the common man.
“The bill has not clarified how it will save the poor from the new tax burden. We will not give our consent and it should be dropped”, Veeri said.
He said the bill has not differentiated between poor and rich and both sections have to pay same for usage of their properties. “There are families in Srinagar, Jammu and in most of the districts, who live from hand-to-mouth and their only property is their house, how would they pay tax imposed by the government”, he said.
Expressing concern over the tax imposed in urban areas, Chaman Lal Gupta of BJP said that the amendments have given more powers to the Municipal Councils (MC) to generate and use the funds which in turn would give rise to corruption. “Properties particularly commercial and residential in urban areas will have to shell out more and keeping in view the economic condition of the people it is unjust”, he said.
He agreed with the observation of Veeri that the law was draconian and will have serious repercussions.
Urging Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone to refer the bill again to the Select Committee, Choudhary Zulfikar termed the coalition regime as ‘tax govt. which has taxed everything in the state’.
“People have faced unprecedented problems in past 20 years and just begun to recover from the economic sludge but the new amendments introduced will again push the entire population to the wall”, he said. “We members demand that this bill should again be referred to the select committee for review”.
While opposition members vehemently opposed the bill, ruling party members, including Nazir Gurezi, Mir Saifullah and Sheikh Mustafa Kamal also expressed their reservations on the act.
“It is unjust for the people. If a person has 15 marlas of land and constructs hotel by taking loan to earn his livelihood, his returns are not more than a lakh rupee per year particularly in urban centres, how can he be able to pay the tax on property as proposed,” the members said.
Mir Saifullah, citing the condition of masses in his own constituency said, “In my constituency people don’t have enough to eat, how can they be able to pay the taxes. It should be reviewed”.
However, minister of State for Urban Development, Nasir Aslam Wani defended the new law and said that no new Act has been brought in the state. “Act is old it was introduced in year 2000, rather than increasing the tax we have reduced it. “BPL families, Agriculture land, war widows, widows, educational institutions and hospitals have been exempted from the act,” he said.
Earlier, the General Tax was 15 percent and now we have divided it into two parts, first for commercial property the upper limit will be 10 per cent while for residential property the upper limit would be 4 percent”.
Elaborating further Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand said that the government has only reformed the old Act and interests of the people have been kept in mind before bringing in the amendments.
Tara Chand, who is also holding Housing and Urban Development portfolio, made it clear that no new taxes have been imposed by way of the amendments.
He later told the media persons, outside the house, that tax on commercial properties will now be up to 10% while that of residential properties 4% as against 15% of ratable value under the Corporation Act 2000. Lands up to 10 marlas and residential construction thereon is exempted from the tax in Municipal Corporations, he added.
In Municipal Committees only commercial properties will be charged with maximum ceiling up to 3%, the Deputy Chief Minister said adding that residential properties have been fully exempted. He said the commercial properties in Municipal Councils will be charged up to 7% while residential properties up to maximum of 3 %.
Under the Municipal Act of 2000 taxes up to 10% were chargeable in Municipal Committees, he said while asserting that residential properties up to 12 marlas have been exempted by the new amendment in Municipal committees.
In addition, he said BPL, agriculture land, hospitals, educational institutions, widows, deserted, divorcees and disabled persons have been exempted through the amendments, which otherwise had to pay tax under the earlier Acts.
* 10% property tax on commercial properties falling in Municipal
Corporation limits of Srinagar and Jammu cities
* 4% tax on residential properties constructed on land area beyond 10 marlas in Municipal Corporations jurisdiction
* 7% tax on commercial properties falling in the jurisdiction of Municipal Councils
* 3% tax on residential properties in Municipal Councils jurisdiction beyond 12 marls of land
* 3% tax on commercial properties in Municipal Committees jurisdiction
Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 1 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
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