Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXII No. 6, July 1-15, 2022

Our Readers Write

Levying of penal interest

Reacting to the news report which stated that the Greater Chennai Corporation [GCC] will withdraw the rebate/incentive of five per cent, if the property tax is paid after April 15 [for the half-year period of April/September] and after October 15 [for the second half-year period of October/March], and, instead,  levy a simple interest of  2 per cent for such payments, I sent a WhatsApp message to the Deputy Commissioner [Revenue & Finance], GCC, Park Town, Chennai 600 003,  seeking his clarification on the applicability of penal charges.

In my  view, the levy of penal interest for payments made after April 15 and October 15, defies the logic. Simply because, such payments are well within the half-yearly periods and do not qualify for the penal charges.  I wish to elaborate further.

The first half-year means April to September and the second half-year denotes the October/March period.  When the first half year and the second half-year periods extend till September and March respectively, and the payment relates to these periods,  and, the remittance of tax is  made  very well within the currency of the respective periods, such payments cannot be considered as overdue to warrant the levy of penal charges. To put it differently, the question of charging interest arises only if the payment is made after the due date and in this case,  the tax becomes overdue only after the  end of the respective six-month periods. 

 The DC had,  within no time, replied to the message.  While appreciating my point of view, he stated that payments of  all kinds of tax, including income tax, is to be made before the day prescribed in the respective Acts. He further elaborated that with respect to Property tax, as per Section 104 of the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, the property tax shall be levied every half-year and shall otherwise expressly provided in Schedule IV, be paid by the owner of the assessed premises within 15 days after commencement of the half-year.  He further furnished a copy of the Tamilnadu Government Gazette Extra-ordinary – Act No.37 of 2018, wherein the Clause 29-D states thus:

 “If any amount remains unpaid after the due date for its payment, the assessee  shall pay, in addition to the amount due, interest at such rate not amounting two per cent simple interest as may be prescribed.”

Notwithstanding the Acts, rules and regulations, which are always one-sided,  the levy of interest even for payments made well within the currency of the  period is unjustifiable. For the first half-year [April/September], one can pay the tax till September end and for the second half-year [October/March] till March end. Tax paid beyond the currency of the period should alone be penalized. 

* * *

Affordable medicare

Following the outbreak of Covid-19, many medical practitioners  have jacked up  their  consultation fees. Though the profession is said to be noble, and there are  a few who still consider it as such,  and treat the patients with a humane touch, a majority of them have become so avaricious that they just do not bother about the economic conditions of the patients.

Sometime back,  I accompanied a friend visiting a clinic where the staff had asked  the patients to provide details like their avocation, salary details and the like. If one thought that these details could provide a base for the doctor to leverage the consultation fee according to the economic conditions of the patients, he is definitely wrong!  Irrespective of one’s background, this pious doctor is cool in deciding his fees.  At his clinic, one could see a number of portraits of seers of a famous Mutt. While the Seer led a very simple life providing succour to the poor and needy often disregarding his own and that of his disciples wants and needs,  the doctor exhibits no such quality nor practices what the Seer had preached.  Even if the doctor spends a sizable amount towards charity, well, it will not do any good.

It is in this context, one should look at the government-run general hospitals where treatment is absolutely free notwithstanding the fact that one has to endure the incurable disease of greasing the palms of the ward boys and others. Despite scaling up the infrastructure and other facilities at heavy cost to the public exchequer, and, many performing complex surgeries using robotic systems with ease and  successfully, and proving beyond doubt that they are second to none in terms of providing health care with the help of equally competent doctors, poor patronage appears to have been the bane of these general hospitals.  The reasons are not far to seek.

When it comes to the question of getting treatment, the political leaders, including those in power, who preside over the foundation laying ceremony of government facilities, and wax eloquent on the availability of state of the art equipments and dedicate the same to the people  with much fanfare,  often prefer to get themselves treated at  private hospitals over the government facilities. When they themselves  treat the facilities which they create at an enormous cost to the exchequer, with contempt, how will the people have confidence in them? Pressure is being exerted on the Central Government to fast-track the construction of All India Institute of Medical Sciences [AIIMS] in Madurai, the total cost of which is said to be in the region of Rs.2000 crore.  Plans are afoot to build a 1000-bed multi-specialty hospital on Kings Institute campus in Guindy, Chennai, at an estimated cost of Rs.230 crores. All these sound good, but if  these do not get the required patronage, the very purpose of putting up such facilities gets defeated.   In order to instill trust and confidence   among the people about the government hospitals, its doctors and the facilities,   the political leaders of all hues should avail of the same.  There have to be regular impromptu visits by the government officials, including the Ministers to check the position of the government hospitals so as to keep the hospital staff on  high alert.  Once they keep  visiting the GHs, and, avail of the facilities,   automatically, the atmosphere will change and the upkeep  and hygiene will improve.

 While the private facilities can function in tandem, since the cost is prohibitive, not many can afford them.

V.S. Jayaraman
31, Motilal Street
Chennai 600 017

‘Au revoir’

Your warning about the only statue of the Mahatma in Chennai (MM, June 1st) is timely in a city noted for removing statues and bringing them back! But you have inadvertently used the word,‘Adieu’ which means farewell; ’au revoir’ which means ‘farewell till we meet again’ would have been more appropriate!

Dr. G. Sundaram, IAS (R)
A-601,“Dugar Apartments”
Keshav Perumal Puram
Greenways Road
Chennai 600 028

Step out for reaching the needy

The headmistress of a school run by Chennai Corporation in my backyard calls me once in a while.

She was a desperate person during the extreme monsoon season late last year. The school campus, a pretty large one, was flooded, the walls of some of the class rooms were damp and layers of whitewash were coming off, there were leaks in some rooms. All she wanted from me were contacts who could come to the aid of the school.

I got a call from her top of this week. The school has just received some two dozen computers, donated by a well-known IT company to Chennai Corporation for distribution to its schools. And this school has benefitted. Now who would fix the machines? Would the school get some help in running the machines and set them up for proper use by the high school students?

The headmistresss though had a more basic need. She said that she had only a few tables, enough chairs though, so she would have to source the tables if she and her team were to put these machines to use, and use right away. She wondered if a donor would help.

And why was she desperate? Because the senior students would have their computer practical exams at the end of this month. So they needed to get going on the machines and prepare double-quick for that exam.

I marveled at the mess at this campus. And wondered at the condition of the educational resources, support systems, and management of such schools. And I suspect that not all is well in the way in which these schools function.

Well, you and I cannot fix the system if it has holes all over it. But I have realized that there are little, great things that a community can collaborate on at such campuses.

I learnt this from a friend who loves biking down the East Coast Road. Some years ago, his road led him down a dusty path to a large school close to Mahabalipuram. The headmaster there spared time to talk, to share what he and his team were doing and the small, outside resources the school needed to pet up its campus life. Art and craft sessions occasionally for the juniors; some volleyball equipment to replace the worn out; spoken English workshops for the senior students.

We put our hands together, pooled money and helped provide some of the resources the school needed.

There are a few schools – middle, high and higher secondary schools in Mylapore zone. They have been around for many, many years and educate a large community. But these schools need some resources, some helping hands, some creative souls. They do not necessarily want you to donate. They would love to have people who reside in their backyard to perhaps organize hobby classes or a painting camp, or provide inputs in sports, or arrange for repairs for their PC or plumbing systems (because they cannot wait for long for the civic body’s men to fix things).

Want to reach out to that school down the road to your colony? Step out. — (Courtesy: Mylapore Times.)

– Vincent D’ Souza

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