Audit & administrative reports, budget proposals shown on giant screen
MARGAO: The Telaulim gram sabha that was held for the first time using technology to show the villagers through a giant screen and laptop what was being discussed had the villagers actively participating to approve a surplus budget besides discussing the Village Development Committee functioning.
Designed by students of the Rosary Higher Secondary School, the audit report, administrative report and the budget proposals were displayed on the giant screen through a programme developed by the students and the villagers could clearly see what was being discussed.
In fact, the minutes of the gram sabha were recorded there itself and people could make the necessary changes as seen on the screen.
It was revealed that for the first time the panchayat had issued a letter to all the villagers giving a consolidated statement of the taxes they had to pay to the panchayat. The house tax, light tax, trade tax and cycle tax were mentioned in the letter along with the current bill and the arrears.
“The cycle tax has been abolished by the panchayat but what is reflected in the letter is the arrears so please pay that amount so that we can close the account and keep our books clean,” said secretary Mario Viegas.
The gram sabha approved a surplus budget for the year 2018-19 expecting an income of Rs. 1,17,01,186 and an expenditure of Rs 1,00,90,500 thereby having a surplus of Rs. 16,10,686.
The Administrative Report for 1017-18 had a grand total of Rs 96,86,233 including Rs. 8409544 as opening balance and an expenditure of Rs. 12,76,688.
The auditor’s report for the year 2016-17 was also placed before the gram sabha and approved where it was pointed out that the panchayat had 15 cases pending in the court and there were 15 illegal constructions in the village.
There was some discussion over the Gram Panchayat Development Plan prepared by the Village Development Committee with one member of the committee who was not present for the committee meeting objecting to it.
Finally the other villagers approved the plan as other VDC members said it was discussed at the meeting and it was decided to prepare a five year development plan for the village which would be sent to the higher authorities so that funds under the 14th Finance could be availed of.
The VDC has proposed eight works estimated to cost around Rs. 10 lakhs to be taken up under the 14th Finance Commission grants and these works included constructing a garbage collection and segregation shed and also painting of the panchayat building.
The panchayat had received two proposals to be taken up for gram sabha but discussed only one as the person who had proposed the other was not present. Following Bentamin Pires’ proposal it was decided to levy “Rental Tax” upon people who have giving out their premises on rental basis for migrants to reside.
“We are spending huge amount on garbage collection which is coming mostly from the migrants staying in rental basis,” pointed out Peter Coutinho who further said that the landlords are paying a pittance as house tax while using the residential premises for commercial purpose.
The gram sabha decided to first survey the entire village with the ward member and the VDC member and identify how many houses have got people living on rental basis and accordingly the panchayat was empowered to levy the fee upon those having people staying on rental basis in their houses.
A villager accused the government of removing the Any Other Business from gram sabha agenda only because it was facing a lot of opposition at the gram sabhas. However, this was rejected as it was pointed out that nothing prevented the villager to give the objections to the government in writing to the panchayat before the gram sabha.
While Sarpanch Estevan Goes conducted the meeting effectively, Deputy Sarpanch Rima Dias proposed the vote of thanks where the secretary was appreciated for his good work and the Our Lady of Rosary Higher Secondary School was thanked for the help rendered through the students handling the audio visual presentation.