ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), under whose purview exist the most expensive lands in the country, has urged residents to register over 67,000 assets in a bid to increase CMC revenue through taxes and registration fees, sources said.
The move comes as the government is in the process of identifying some lands to lease to foreign investors on a long term lease with the aim to raise foreign exchange.
“This was an idea formulated by the CMC commissioner to generate income from unregistered properties,” Deputy Mayor of Colombo M T M Iqbal told EconomyNext.
According to the list published by the CMC on Monday (27), there are 67,741 unregistered properties in the Colombo municipality. The Council urged residents to register their hitherto unregistered properties at the Municipal Assessor Department by November 30 to confirm their ownership.
Iqbal explained that property ownership registration was generally only done when there is a need for the owners to obtain documents from the CMC such as building plans, to sell the property, to settle family disputes or to mortgage.
He said those who register before the deadline will not be taxed retrospectively.
“There are properties that haven’t been registered for 200 years,” Iqbal said.
Two other CMC officials said the decision was taken for the benefit of the owners and to prevent fraudulent property transfers.
The primary income of the CMC is property tax. Other incomes include parking fees, conventional halls and markets.
Analysts say the move was to raise income through increasing taxes once all properties are registered. The price of properties has risen significantly, and CMC rates are revised periodically.
The CMC generates only about 100 million rupees per year from land registration with the land registration fees varying between 3,000 to 5,000 rupees, depending on the property.
Iqbal said the CMC has seen nearly a fifth, or 3 billion rupees, fall short of its total estimated income since 2018.
“Out of the 11 billion, 70-80 percent is generated from (property) rates,” Iqbal said.
“The municipal runs on this income. Even property registration will be a one-time payment,” he said.
So far, 60 percent of the rate payers have paid, and the CMC expects at least 70 percent of the total rate payers might pay by the end of this year. (Colombo/Sep28/2021)