The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has chalked out an elaborate program to raise funds on self-help basis coupled with capacity building of its employees ensuring quality service delivery to the people of the city.
Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhter, sharing details of his strategy in an interview with media, said the KMC is contemplating to reactivate the Municipal Utility Tax with equal attention towards improved recovery through stringent and transparent collection measures in the metropolis.
The current recovery rate of the only tax imposed by the KMC, rest being fees, was said to be very low compelling the KMC to adopt measures as attachment of property and arrest of the non-payees.
“We have to go for a carrot and stick policy as our budget already exposed to a deficit of Rs. 8 billion leaves little space to be lenient.” said the Mayor.
This, according to him, was in a scenario where essential revenue generation components of the KMC ranging from water & sewerage board, solid waste management to transport and collection of local taxes have been taken away from the KMC under amendments to the provincial Local Bodies Act.
The management of the fire brigade department, KMC hospitals, charged parking, zoo management, cleaning of major stormwater drains coupled with infrastructure development in selected areas were said to have been placed under the KMC purview.
“Despite this scenario we are trying to streamline the situation within available resources,” said the Mayor mentioning that the KMC also have to meet the liabilities related to salary and pension of its employees.
“I have been repeatedly informing the concerned quarters about the deficit the KMC is exposed to and which is hampering its performance,” he said.
“The KMC is in urgent need of Rs.12600 million under varied heads including infrastructure development (Rs.5000 million), containment of environmental degradation (Rs.2000 million); revamping of fire brigade department (Rs.500 million); meeting salary and pension related shortfall of Rs. 300 million per month for 12 months (Rs.3,600 million) and clearance of liabilities and debts (Rs.1200).”
Wasim Akhter regretted that devolution of power under the 18th Amendment to the Constitution has not been implemented in letter and spirit in the province itself and that the KMC during past few years has been deprived of most of its authority.
In reply to a question, the Mayor Karachi said, with a view to update the professional capacities of KMC workers, they are being made to undergo training, particularly in the fields of management and administration at the Sindh Institute of Management.
“This is to ensure that people are served efficiently within limited resources,” he said. “But we also can not ignore the fact that we have no money even to provide free of cost medicines to resource-less patients while our fire brigade department is also in urgent need to be revamped.
“We currently have 32 engines in our fleet and out of which only 24 are in working order and there is also no fund available to arrange for foam or replace the worn-out snorkel”, he said.
It is in this backdrop that Municipality Utilisation Tax, introduced in 2009, is being reactivated and streamlined but this cannot be enough to meet the needs of Karachi, the ever expanding city exposed to series of challenges.
To a query, Mayor of Karachi said that funds were urgently needed to address the issue of backlog as no substantial work could be done in particular context of garbage disposal that has accumulated to severe proportions, due to inadequate handling during past more than five years.