While the number of persons paying online may have doubled this year - from 32,000 to 71,000 - many more may have logged on, and then logged off in frustration. Property owners in several parts of the city were in for a shock, when the computer refused to accept their payment, saying they had not paid the previous year’s tax. “We have bonafide receipts of taxes paid last year. How can the system say we have not paid? Isn’t it ridiculous that we now have to go to the BBMP office? What’s the point making it online if the taxpayer has to trek to the centre?” asked Sumithra Raghavan. The reasons are not too far to seek. The ground staff at work have not updated their previous tax data in the database. Helpless, these taxpayers returned to the queue at the BBMP help centres. Some others could not take printouts of their tax paid receipts.
BBMP officials also admit to the folly. “Yes, it’s unfortunate that we have had many such complaints this time, mainly from the newly-added areas. Data updation for 2009-10 and 2010-11 is still in progress and will take another 15 days to complete. But thereafter, there should be no problems for people to switch to the online mode,’’ BBMP deputy commissioner (revenue) I Ramakant told TOI.
For the full report in the ToI, click here.
As per the report, only Rs 37.52 cr, out of the Rs 520.36 cr received so far, was paid online, accounting for a miniscule 7.2% for supposedly tech savvy Benagaluru. This includes my contribution too.
As a blogger from the time blogging started, I have generally managed to keep myself abreast of the tech upgrades, though, in my late middle age ( I am trying to avoid the word 'old'), it's not been as easy, as say for my son. But, I have generally been making all mine and my immediate family's travel bookings, whether by air, rail or bus; banking operations; insurance policy renewals; credit card payments; etc, all from home, through the net, saving me a considerable amount of time, effort, and travel. I have generally found the sites user friendly, and once you have navigated through the process the first time, it becomes kind of child's play thereafter.
BBMP is about the exception. If I have managed to make online payment of my property taxes over the years, it required my "cracking" of the process each time, through painstaking effort, apart from some bit of luck.
The difference plainly is one of professionalism in the approach. It's like when a person wants to build his house. Now, any body can build it all on his own, and in the process, save himself the 5% odd fee that the architect may charge, though, at the end of it all, he may land up paying 20% more than what he would have, if he had engaged an architect. This is apart from the question of liveability of the house.
BBMP's approach is very much like the person who believes in doing it all by himself, even in today's world, which has become a lot more professionalised, quite in tune with the day's demands. Their team consists largely of just one professional, and the rest all part timers, if I understood it correctly. When some of us met him, quite like the person who has chosen to build his house himself, this professional too was eloquent about how, if the job had been outsourced to say a TCS, it would have cost the BBMP some tens of crores, as compared to the few lakhs he and his team is presently costing the BBMP. The point he misses is that, if indeed a TCS had been engaged, they would have brought in a lot more value additions to the whole exercise, making for a far more dynamic and buoyant tax collection mechanism. This is apart from the huge savings in manhours for the BBMP corresponding to the staff deployed in the physical collection exercise, assuming that they have something more productive to do, which of couse is a big question mark.
It all again boils down to professionalisation through outsourcing, simultaneous down-sizing, payment of better than market salaries for the remaining staff, and making all of them more accountable. Readers of this blog may want to read this also.