'We're investing in infrastructure to ensure happier Mumbaikars'
After tabling his first BMC budget on February 4, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi spoke exclusively to TOI on the preparation of the country's richest civic body's income-and-spending plan for the year 2020-21.
BMC Budget 2020-21 has proposed a significant rise in capital expenditure from Rs 11,480 crore in 2019-20 to nearly Rs 14,638 crore. Why?
While drafting the budget, our focus was on building infrastructure whether increasing the capacity of stormwater drains, reducing pollution levels by running electric buses, ensuring adequate water supply, or even assuring smoother commute by building the Mumbai Coastal Road and missing road links. And this requires more investment. In the end, these public works will result in healthier and happier citizens who will then be able to deliver efficiency in their professions and livelihoods. Likewise, the city will be climate and disaster-resilient.
But the BMC will again dip into its reserves for the works.
Fixed deposits are meant for such permanent asset creations. No public body should keep surplus money in banks ...taxpayers' money should be spent on services for them. Like households dip into FDs to fulfil their dreams like buying a house, we too plan to use the reserve money to provide better infrastructure like the coastal road.
The budget also plans to invest in secure and high-yielding avenues like government bonds and debentures. How soon do you plan to do this?
Immediately, as the rate of interest in government deposits is falling drastically. We are already working with investment consultants and banks' capital advisory services...we will invest only a small percentage of reserves.
The BMC plans to start eco-tourism activities around its water reservoirs. How will this be done?
We plan to follow the public-private partnership model. Apart from creating revenue, it will also help generate jobs, as private tour operators will be roped in to operate the eco-tourism activities near our reservoirs. Even hospitality partners will be invited to upgrade, maintain and manage our guest houses near the reservoirs.
Source: The Times of India, Mumbai
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