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Civic bodies to roll back property tax hike on commercial establishments

Under pressure from traders' bodies, the three BJP-ruled municipal corporations in the national capital have decided to roll back the property tax hike on commercial establishments in the city. The corporations had increased property tax for big commercial establishments from 12 per cent to 20 per cent and it had also been incorporated in the budget 2013-14.

But on Monday, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel, in the presence of mayors and leaders of the three municipal corporations, announced, 'The three municipal corporations will roll back the recent tax hikes on commercial properties.’

The municipal corporations in the city had hiked property tax on commercial properties over 100 sqm area from the existing rate to 20 per cent, but protest from traders and the upcoming Delhi assembly elections have forced the BJP-ruled municipal corporations to back-track.

According to sources, the protest against the tax hike, came mostly from Old Delhi  traders, those with businesses at the markets of Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Karol Bagh and Daryaganj, which fall under the jurisdiction of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

Earlier, the corporations had refused to roll back the hike, citing legal crisis as an excuse. Section 109 (2) of Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC) Act prevents any change in the 'schedule of taxes' once approved by the house. But now, under pressure from the traders’ organisations,  the corporations have  found out a way. Section 177 of the DMC Act empowers the house to exempt collection of any tax. 'We will provide relief to traders, exempting the collection of hiked tax amount,' said Ram Kishan Singhal, chairman of the standing committee in North DMC. But according to officers, the execution of the plan will be far from smooth. 'This is probably the first time that the corporations will use Section 177 of the DMC Act. The decision will be referred to the chief law officer (CLO) for his opinion. The comments of the CLO are crucial and it is possible that the commissioner may reject the proposal if the CLO’s recommendations are against the proposal,' said M S A Khan, additional commissioner (revenue) of North DMC.

South DMC is ready to set an example in the case, by passing a resolution to roll back the hike in a meeting of the standing committee on Tuesday. 'We have drafted the resolution to roll back the tax hike and it will be passed in the meeting,' said Rajesh Gehlot, chairman of standing committee in South DMC. Congress had also registered its protest on the issue inside the house and organised protests in Delhi last
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