Six Ways – Punjab Government Can Double The Revenue Without Tax
1.Permission to improve Infrastructure:
One of the main leads this month was the renouncement of Punjab government schools to private sector and a forceful discharge of thousands of teachers as part of saving budget. Recently, local government departments and Tehsil Muncipal Administrations (TMA) of various cities on account of lack of funds have cut short various development projects and pensions of their employees. While the Government is facing heat for privatization and debt of worth of millions, Punjab government has also banned jobs to cut expenditures.
As an outcome, thousands who were recently interviewed and shortlisted are now wandering around. Situation in Sindh and KPK is no different. Several development projects are on hold because of lack of resources. In general, the situation seems grim, complicated and never ending. Provincial governments seemingly have focused solely on augmenting tax to raise revenue. However, there are several alternatives on city level that can assure colossal revenue for provincial governments without legal complexities, create thousands of jobs and can be put into practice as of tomorrow.
In Punjab, major city projects are carried out by respective TMAs, and their main source of revenues are properties in the major places. Built mostly in Zia’s era, the majority is single storey and is generating some income. In Rawalpindi for instance, National Market, Saidpur Market, Sherpao Market, Banni and Pirwadhai Stand, are all single-storey and are positioned in the business hub. With authorization and rent adjustment, current tenants will be pleased to construct another floor on their own. According to a building inspector of TMA, Rawalpindi, this alone can generate 200 million rupees each year and promise thousands of new businesses and jobs only in Rawalpindi.
2. Utilizing commercial space:
Most government properties including schools, local government offices and hospitals sites on prime locations. In Rawalpindi, Kanals of RDA, PHA and district education offices are on Murree, road where a marla costs 6-8 million rupees and average shop rent is 30-50 thousand/month. Creating shops 15 feet under the boundary not only assures departmental salary, but will also release burden of worth billions from provincial government. Similarly, shops in one park (Nawaz sharif park, Rawalpindi on side of the double road) can single handedly generate revenue of millions for PHA (department of parks and horticulture authority).
One of the Government’s main liability is to beautify squares and maintain street lights. Rawalpindi city spends 120 million rupees each year on street lights maintenance and bills. Due to budget cuts and corruption, 70 percent of street lights and signals are non functional. According to a senior city government official, two advertising companies had shown interest in the past to maintain lights and squares if they were given permission to advertise on pools. By leasing, the companies will not only maintain squares and lights but will also add revenue in the budget. Likewise, CDA model of bus stand advertisement can be replicated to build and maintain stands at no cost.
4.Utilizing space of Underpasses:
In Gujjar Khan and Peshawar, underpass model was introduced in 2000 which had shops in basement and sides. This not only covered the cost but today is one of the major sources of income for the local government. Punjab government has instigated various underpass projects; a similar model will not only cover the cost in few years but will make it an asset rather a liability.
At present, city governments offer parking contract to one or two companies who charge Rs 10/car and there’s no time limit. Conversely, if city government bids every major market/ bazaar separately and formulate per hour parking, this will not only twice the revenue but will also make the management more efficient.
6.Leasing Road Patches:
Each year, the Government spends billions on road constructions and maintenance. Recently, motorway and highway toll plazas have been leased to different companies in the name of maintenance who have increased the toll. The same maintenance can be done for free if patches in kilometers are rented to different advertisers on conditions that they will build and maintain the road. This will save a huge budget that can be spent elsewhere.
Recent actions on closing projects and privatization not only sparked a wide outrage but in future it will create bedlam in the form of unemployment. Effective management of government institutions can assure a major increase in the revenue. The above stated steps are city town level that does not involve extensive legislation and is adequate to all fragments of society. If implemented, can not only make departments economically independent but will also make the management swift and efficient. It’s about time that instead of selling assets and burdening masses, we should make effective reforms or else, the situation will be grim every passing day.