There is another twist in the GHMC-USM Business Systems issue.

The Municipal Corporation has decided to issue a contempt of court notice to the private agency which was initially appointed to collect the advertisement tax on signboards from the traders and later rescinded.

Harassment

Three months ago, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation decided to abort the contract following the agency's failure to pay the contracted fee amount of Rs. 12.5 crore spread over a three year period, harassment charges by traders and also the High Court directing the civic body to take up the job instead of letting a private party do it.

Ad fee was being collected from business establishments for frontage arches, brand names, mobile ads, boards, umbrellas, pole panels, banners, etc., at the rate of Rs. 1,200 per square metre and Rs. 600 per sq.mtr for vinyl boards.

More than 1.5 lakh boards were estimated to come under tax net.

However, the agency appealed in the court where it was stated that the GHMC could cancel the contract only after following a proper procedure.

Panel appointed

The Commissioner then had appointed a three-member committee of Additional Commissioners of Planning, Finance and Advertisements to look into the issue and take a decision.

Even while the committee was mulling over the modalities and was also considering allowing the firm to collect the fee but in the name of Commissioner only, it received the startling information that USM was continuing to collect huge sum of ad fee without permission.

Shocked

Shocked senior municipal officials immediately decided to break off all ties with the agency and a comprehensive notice is being prepared to be sent to the agency for not only failing to fulfil the contractual obligations but for also collecting fee illegally contrary to the court directions.

They claimed the corporation had already begun collecting fee from various trades using own staff.

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