RCB, CCB announce amnesty schemes for regularising homes built before 2015.
RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi and Chaklala cantonment boards have decided to launch an amnesty scheme for illegal domestic structures, under which all homeowners will be asked to legalise their illegal structures without a fine and to have their homes’ building maps approved within three days.
A senior Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) official told Dawn that the amnesty scheme will apply to illegal structures of domestic units that were built before 2015.
Homeowners will have to pay a fee of Rs2,500 to have their building map made by an approved architect, which has to be submitted to the RCB to be approved within two days.
He said the amnesty scheme aims to legalise all illegal structures in the cantonment areas to bring the practice to an end. He said most people build homes without approved building plans, which causes problems for the civic body.
He added that the RCB also introduced an amnesty scheme for water connections in 2014, which increased water consumers. He said that the RCB will expand its tax net after the amnesty scheme for illegal structures.
The RCB depends on fees collected from property taxes and other charges, as the federal government did not give it additional funds for development work in the cantonment areas.
“A total of 80,000 domestic units and more than 2,000 commercial units are in the RCB’s tax net. It had fixed a target to collect Rs725 million in property taxes from domestic and commercial units in the 2019-20 fiscal year, but it collected 60pc [of that],” he said.
The official said that the RCB has carried out a survey of the cantonment areas and found a large number of illegal structures in many areas, leaving it no choice but to legalise this construction by announcing an amnesty scheme to bring it into the tax net.
A Chaklala Cantonment Board (CCB) official said that the civic body is facing financial problems because it has fewer commercial units through which to generate revenue from property taxes in order to meet expenses.
With the amnesty scheme, the CCB will bring the maximum number of people into the tax net, he said, adding that after legalising illegal houses, the civic body will generate money from water connection fees and monthly charges.
CCB Vice President Raja Irfan Imtiaz told Dawn that the amnesty scheme will be launched to give people the facility to legalise their structures while helping the civic body end illegal construction.
He said the CCB is working to generate funds that can be used for development work.
The federal government has failed to provide any development funds for the last two years, and the CCB has to meet its expenses with limited resources, he said.
Last year, the CCB constructed commercial buildings in Lal Kurti and plans to construct more such buildings and bring more areas into its tax net, he said.
Mr Imtiaz said it is a better option to widen the tax net than increase taxes on people who are already paying taxes regularly.
RCB spokesperson Qaiser Mehmood said the RCB will provide relief to people who built their homes without approved building plans before 2015 and the amnesty scheme will improve property tax collection.
People who built their homes without building plans after 2015 will have to pay a fine and development charges as normal, since they deliberately skipped the process.
However, he said, the RCB has improved the system for building plan approval and people can contact the civic body without difficulty and have their plans approved in a short amount of time.