The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New funds to spur urban growth

New Delhi, Oct. 21: Three new funds will soon provide the much-needed push to urban infrastructure reforms in the country. The three instruments proposed by the ministry of urban development and poverty alleviation include urban reforms incentive fund (URIF), city challenge fund (CCF) and pooled finance development scheme (PFDS).

Speaking at a global convention on urban infrastructure reforms, P. K. Pradhan, joint secretary in the ministry of urban development, said, “There is a need to shift from public ownership, public financing and public regulation to public ownership, private financing and independent regulation.” “The government’s role is to only facilitate the reform process.”

The current gap between urban housing and attendant infrastructure facilities available and what is required ranges between 20 and 60 per cent of the urban population. According to an estimate made by the ministry, a sum of Rs 17,000 crore per annum would be required to bridge this gap for the water and sanitation sectors alone.

Some of the other reforms identified under URIF are rationalisation of the high stamp duty regime to no more than 5 per cent by the end of the Tenth Plan period, property tax reform and the utilisation of the Rs 500 crore corpus. Similarly, reforms proposed under CCF include improvement in the financial accounting system, capacity building and restructuring including voluntary retirement schemes.

The ministry is also preparing guidelines to facilitate public-private partnership. The other initiative includes model municipal laws (under preparation) to improve revenue base of municipalities and also accounting reforms.

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