Thursday, July 31, 2008

The "Use Priciple" in action for Bangalore Traffic Police

My good friend Mr. Nanjappa was mentioning some time back his interaction with Mr. Kumaramangalam of world space networking about the parking problem, we the residents of HAL III stage face every day. He, Mr. Kumaramangalam wanted to give a representation to the Police Commissioner (His Friend) Jointly with some residents of our association. The commissioner cannot listen to one individual’s problem, even if it is his friend. Fair enough I thought.
I went to Mr. Kumaramangalam’s Office. I could talk to him very briefly from the road, as he was reluctant to invite me in to his office, as he was very busy, that day. It was not possible to meet him for the whole week too. When I mentioned about Mr. Nanjappa having discussion about the parking problem with him, he was kind enough to let me know that he wanted to give a joint petition to his friend.
Mr. Madhava Rao, who is also a resident of HAL III stage, had a similar problem. Many Taxis were being regularly parked in his road causing nuisance. He could convince the Taxi drivers about his stand on the issue viz “Road side parking in a residential area is only for visitors to the concerned resident’s visitors only per se.” The people of Bangalore including taxi drivers are very reasonable. So is every body else, in any country for that matter. It is only how the citizens put across their point, matters. So now we see that all the taxis have shifted to other roads. Some time to our roads too causing the same anguish Mr. Madhava Rao had.
Now putting the Police Commissioner’s hat let us think
1. A visitor to any person has to park as near by as possible to that person’s residence he is visiting. Be it be on the same road or otherwise.
2. It will be for a reasonably small time, depending on his visit.
3. The Taxis too have to park when they are on duty in that road or when they are not engaged.
4. When Taxis are not engaged the time they park can be longer.
5. Though the Road side parking slots in residential areas are for the public visitors, the Owners Visitors should get the preference.
6. The Ownership of the parking slots rests with the corporation/Government
7. So I (the Police Commissioner) have jurisdiction to regulate the same.
8. But I (the Police Commissioner) am having many other pressing problems.
9. Let the problem get solved by it self.
10. I wish there is some solution. But I don’t have time to find the best.
Now putting a resourceful common man’s hat let us think
1. I want preference to my visitor’s vehicles to park in front of my house.
2. I do not mind others using it at other times.
3. How do I insure my visitor finds the slot empty when he arrives?
4. I can create a parking slot and lock it up.
5. Do I ask the commissioner’s for permission?
6. Is it legal? Can I do it any way?
7. Hay I heard about the “Use Principle” of taxing people!
8. I will join hands with the Commissioner BBMP and we both end up making Money!
9. We share the cost of making a parking slot and the parking fee we charge per hour 50:50. With the BBMP.
10. Problem solved.
-----Ananthram PS A Senior Citizen

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Indian Institute of Science Alumni meet

To day I attended the IISc Alumni meet held at "TERI" in Domlur. This venue was the first to be chosen out side the IISc campus. IISc being in the midst of celebrating its Centenary year, this Alumni meet had a greater significance. I attended the meeting as the venue was very near to the place where we live. The organizers were very happy to note that their decision brought the expected result. IISc which undoubtedly is a premium institute of its kind in our country has upgraded its view on its Alumni Association by appointing one of its serving senior faculties to head the association. The break fast was sumptuous with Rava Idli, Masala Dosa, Upma and coffee with Badam Halva to boot. The Quality was that of MTR too.
Professor Dattaguru opened the meet and gave an update on the activities. Ram Akella, Professor and Director, Centre for Knowledge, Information Systems, and Management of Technology, University of California, Silicon Valley Centre, who happened to be visiting Bangalore was very happy to share his thoughts.
The organizers in the year of centenary celebrations had a special invitee to this meet. He was V. Ravichander former member, Bangalore Agenda Task force (BATF).
Mr. Ravichander spoke on BATF which was formed in the SM Krishna days. Those were very difficult days as such, with Veerappan. After Veerappan terrorism has gone to the next dimension keeping in pace with the Internet! SM Krishna a computer savvy Chief Minister Set up BATF. As Ravichander told every CEO takes pride in one up man ship, government too is of no exception. BATF was wound up for good in no time with the change of the government.
With the brief talk which I had with Mr. Ravichander, I got the answer to my doubt as to why it was necessary to change from Self Assessment Scheme (SAS) system of Property tax to that of Capital Value System (CVS):

  1. It was BATF according to him who proposed SAS, in line with Income Tax (IT) Assessment, which we file every year. We file our income tax return as per the current IT levied by the government from time to time. There are charted accountants who help us to file our Tax returns as per law. The onus is on the IT department to maximize the revenue for the government by unearthing tax evaders by working hard and honestly. It is a crime to evade taxes. This system of putting the onus on the tax payer to first file the returns as per the requirements avoids the IT department’s indulgence in colluding with the tax payer for personal gains. How this is different for the city corporation when BATF proposed SAS which is nothing different than IT returns Scheme which Citizens are following through out the country? Why should Bangalore Corporation have accepted SAS only for 5 years? Did they require 5 years to do research over and above the self appointed expert committee BATF?
  2. This clearly shows the fallacy of the law makers, who want the corporation to be on the bargaining side by having the opportunity to collude with the public for obvious reasons.
  3. At that time when BATF whom the then government had appointed, proposed SAS probably they were in a fix to reject. So it appears they accepted it for 5 years as a law.
  4. After the 5th year SAS would become illegal automatically!
  5. The % of honest to not so honest citizens is an astonishing 40:60 ratio
  6. It requires hard work for the corporation to raise enough money.
  7. Citizens are not averse to the fact that Government requires more money for Development.
  8. The use principle, comes in handy for this purpose.

Ravichander also mentioned that traffic optimization was also burning issue addressed by the BATF, apart from other issues like infrastructure. He talked about the Metro rail project and Bus route optimization etc.
After the talk was over all the Alumni were so excited that the time flue without any one noticing other than the organizers.

  1. There was an excellent suggestion that bus fares should be subsidized which would provide enough incentive for people to use it instead of using their own transport. There is no point in having too many vehicles and optimize the traffic.
  2. Develop Satellite towns on the Chennai model etc.

The rain god had to intervene when the meeting abruptly ended.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Property and Other Taxes: The Use Priciple

I was updating my good friend, V Madhava Rao (he is an Engineer, MBA with about 40 years of industrial experience) about the meeting I attended on Property Tax. He started passionately describing the “Use Principle” as the basis for levying taxes. Rao had a totally different and radical view on the subject. Hearing what he was telling, I was dumb struck.The principle is that use of a facility should have a major weight and ownership a minor weight in the quantum of taxation. Since CVS relies only on ownership and a notional or a virtual inflated value for the property, it is unjust and could be often unaffordable. Any taxation should be based on usage, and on realized profits like rental income, and capital gains on disposal of property.Also, Municipal Corporations should look at revenue models beyond property tax like a levy on vehicles using the road, and hotels and other establishments who generate bulk of the garbage. Definitely, the Corporations should have adequate resources but it should come from a multiple set of usage based measures like Motor vehicles using the road. A good measure could be to collect a Cess on petrol, diesel, which would be a direct measure of usage, and also parking fee. Similarly a service tax can be levied on rentals, which the user pays.This concept of Use can be further applied to many other aspects.CVS is an economically inappropriate tax proposal and is disproportionate to economic benefits that the property generates, and hence not viable.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Property Tax and Illegal/Legal construction in Bangalore

Yesterday I attended a public meeting called by the sub committee headed by R Ashok Transport Minister in BSYs Cabinet at 10:30AM regarding Property Tax collection in Bangalore City (extended recently). A second agenda was legalizing illegal constructions in the Metropolis. I arrived at 9:30 in the morning by an Auto. I was afraid to use my car as I felt apprehensive about finding a parking place. (I should have used the BTS Bus instead to save on carbon foot print). To my surprise I found a lot of activity at the venue where a big demonstration was being rehearsed. I tried to find my way to get inside the auditorium when I was accosted by an official whom I found later on to be representing a residents association or so. He suggested mildly that perhaps I should be considering joining the protest organized at the gate for the minister’s benefit, to impress upon the minister, the gravity of imposing Capital Value System (CVS)! After joining them for a moment I went inside to find a cozy seat in the auditorium.

The “mega” city chief Mayor (“Ayukta”) Dr. S Subramanya took pains to explain the CVS and the old (Illegal!) Self Assessment System (SAS) of levying the tax. He concluded by saying both the systems would net almost same revenue, but CVS would be easier for the officials in the collection. We are all selfish aren’t we? Officials are human after all or more so as they have to work very hard than the common man who has to only pay as a law abiding citizen.

The next program as I remember was when R Ashok took over the mike and directed the public mike’s movement to the participants to voice their comments. There were lots of disappointed participants not getting the mike. Ashok was the boss most of the time. The most important voices appeared in my paper TOI today. There were avoidable repetitions galore. I believe that is what politics is all about. I stand to be corrected please.
R Ashok reiterated that the elected representatives will take the decision on the matter.
Some fallacies conspicuous by being conveniently (Give and take) un-noticed were:
1. All illegal constructions should be legalized till date. After that they should not be allowed.
2. 40% of property owners in the mega city are paying tax remaining 60% are not.
3. Government wants x amount for development so increase tax.
4. Each party (Tax payer/Collector) talked about their own problem.
5. The Ministers did not question the Officials/Residents about respective lapses.

I joined my Morning Walk gang in a hilarious laugh (We knew it all before hand) to day morning.

Wife & Me in Hyderabad, India August 18, 2005

Wife &  Me in Hyderabad, India August 18, 2005
The Indian School of Business