Jammu: Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday cautioned the people of Jammu and Kashmir against misinformation being spread about the newly-introduced property tax and reiterated that his administration has ensured lowest rates in the country and exempted 40 per cent of the union territory population.
He said the doors of his administration are open for anyone who has a better suggestion with regard to the property tax.
The Union Territory administration recently notified the imposition of property tax in municipal areas from April 1. The tax rates will be five per cent of taxable annual value for residential properties and six per cent for commercial properties.
The decision sparked a widespread protest with almost all political parties, social organisations and the business community demanding immediate rollback of the order.
“Some people who do not want to pay the property tax are provoking others. The property tax is there across the country and we have ensured lowest rates in J&K,” Sinha said, addressing a GST symposium and Tax awareness initiative ‘Kar-Tavya’ for industries, traders associations and other stakeholders here.
The LG urged the people not to fall prey to certain vested interests spreading false information and creating misconceptions around property tax, anti-encroachment drives and power generation.
“No poor will be touched during anti-encroachment drives but no influential encroacher will be spared. The encroached land retrieved by the government will be utilised for the welfare of the common man and schools, colleges, hospitals and sports facilities will be developed on these lands,” he said.
He said the administration has taken care of the concerns of the common person while formulating the law as 40 per cent of the population will not have to pay any property tax along with religious places which have been exempted.
“We have 5.20 lakh houses in Jammu, Srinagar and other municipal committees, out of which 2.06 lakh fall below 1,000 square feet which means 40 per cent will not have to pay property tax. Further, we have 2.03 lakh houses that fall below 1,500 square feet. Such houses have to pay below Rs 1,000 annually as property tax,” he said.
Similarly, Sinha said there are 1.01 lakh shops in Jammu, Srinagar and other areas falling under municipal committees, out of which 46 per cent of shops fall below 100 square feet and have to pay around Rs 700 annually on account of property tax.
He said the tax amount fixed is one-tenth of the tax being paid by the people in Shimla, Ambala and Dehradun.
“People will have to pay the lowest property tax. If we compare Shimla, Ambala and Dehradun with J&K, the UT has to pay only one-tenth of these states which is very low,” he said, urging people to come forward and cooperate with the government.
Sinha said the people need to look at it with an open mind and if anyone among the business community, industrialists or others feel something better could be done, the doors of the administration are open for suggestions.
“Revenue will directly go to the accounts of municipalities and corporations. This step has been taken to make our cities an engine of growth,” he said.
Later talking to reporters, he rejected the criticism of the political parties that such decisions should have been left to the popular government and said his administration is governed by the constitution and all the decisions are made keeping in mind the public welfare.
“We provide Rs 900 crore every year to urban local bodies (to undertake developmental works the property tax will definitely have its contribution in the development of J&K,” he said.