Software Panchatantra 2.0 linked to Point-of-Sale machines distributed to all 256 Gram Panchayats
Mysore/Mysuru: In a significant development aimed at enhancing the lives of rural citizens, ensuring transparency and curbing revenue pilferage, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department (RDPR) has expanded its reforms to enable convenient online property tax payments. This facility has been extended to Mysuru and Point-of-Sale (PoS) machines have been distributed to all 256 Gram Panchayats in the region.
Property owners in Gram Panchayats can now conveniently pay their taxes through digital wallets or debit/credit cards using a digital tax payment system. Previously, taxpayers were required to visit revenue offices and make payments in cash, by cheque or via Demand Draft (DD).
However, the new system offers the option to pay through e-wallets and bank cards, allowing users to make payments from the comfort of their homes.
The major drawback of the previous system was its lack of transparency, which often led to misuse of collected funds by local Panchayat bill collectors and manipulation of records. Proper accounting and accountability were absent, with physical bills and counterfoils sometimes missing.
Tax registers were not adequately maintained, resulting in substantial revenue losses. Additionally, in many cases, the calculated tax dues were significantly lower than the prescribed amounts. For instance, in some cases, only Rs. 2,000 was collected from marked properties instead of the required Rs. 5,000.
This initiative is part of the upgraded software Panchatantra 2.0, a platform governing Gram Panchayats. Panchatantra 2.0 was launched in April 2023 by the previous BJP Government, representing a ground-breaking reform aimed at revitalising rural governance, enhancing transparency in public expenditure and establishing robust accountability measures.
According to the RDPR Department, the previous version of Panchatantra resulted in numerous irregularities in property tax collections, including failure to record collected taxes, underestimation of tax potential, and manipulation of records to improperly retain tax funds.
The former accounting system allowed deferred book entries, permitting tax collections today to be recorded at a later date. However, this practice has been phased out with the introduction of a new accounting system that updates the books in real-time, eliminating the possibility of deferred entries.
Tax collection efficiency
This initiative is part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to improve tax collection efficiency, with additional initiatives in the planning stages. Officials have emphasised that the new system allows users to choose digital wallets, such as Paytm or debit/credit cards for payments, benefiting urban, semi-urban and rural areas.
Furthermore, the introduction of swipe machines, also known as PoS devices, has been initiated. These devices enable bill collectors to accept taxes through cordless devices, further streamlining the tax collection process.
These PoS machines are integrated with Panchatantra 2.0 and bill collectors carry them door-to-door to collect taxes in villages. The system is designed to prevent alterations to tax amounts, tax slabs and other specifications without approval from higher officers. Any changes made are recorded in the system, along with the name of the approving officer, ensuring accountability.
Bapuji Seva Kendra mobile app
To facilitate online payments, the RDPR Department has launched a Bapuji Seva Kendra mobile app. With approximately 6,000 Gram Panchayats in Karnataka and around 1.5 crore rural properties falling within the tax bracket, authorities anticipate a significant increase in tax revenue as more properties come under the purview of the new tax regulations, including previously unregistered properties.
This digital transformation not only simplifies tax payments but also extends to various other services, including the issuance of building construction licences, occupancy certificates and water supply connections, all accessible through the Bapuji Seva Kendra online platform.