Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why do we have such appalling bureaucrats?
Municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak was criticised by the High Court for equating the case of a newborn that went missing from Sion Hospital to instances of stolen mobiles and ornaments on Wednesday.
...because our babus are not accountable to ordinary citizens in any way. At least netas have to get votes every 5 years!

The epitome of this creed is the IAS, whose officers have no accountability to the people they are supposed to serve. This is, however, not surprising, since the IAS is the direct descendant of the Imperial Civil Service (ICS) whose sole intent was to keep the white man above the native, giving him free reign to exploit and suborn. Saheb was answerable only to the queen. We have merely replaced the white man with a brown one, the queen with the CM/PM.

Which explains Phatak's grossly callous statement.

The IAS is a failed institution, way past its expiry date. It needs to be taken behind a barn and shot. Roles like the 'MC' need to be handled by professional managers selected competitively and held in place with performance contracts. Incompetence such as this should ensure that the person remains unemployable for life.

At long last -- Mumbai reforms her property tax system

This was an idea whos time has come a 20 years ago.
While still riddled with caveats and riders, this is a welcome move.

Linkage to capital value create buoyancy in the tax base, and mumbai will no longer have to depend upon constant increase in tax rates (the tax rate for commercial propoerties, for instance, was over 120%! -- like 97% income tax in indira gandhi's time) to fight inflation.

Now, how about the other property reforms the city sorely needs:
1. Sending Rent control where it belongs -- to the dust bin?
3. Repealing archaic laws like fixed FSI that throttle the supply of real estate and moving to a more rational system that frees space? (e.g. more FSI near transport hubs)?
4. Moving to a city master plan with simplified, rational bye laws for construction that use FSI as a motivator for realtors to give up land for creating open spaces and infrastructure?
2. Mapping all property parcels in the city down to cadastre into a visual, electronic database (such as a GIS)? This will allow efficient tax administration, ownership management and allows for total tax control, transaction control and also gives the administration full view into land usage?

Many more to come, for mumbai to even become a city worth living in!
But with ULCRA gone and taxes reformed, some glimmers of hope!