The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation's decision to widen the scope of trade licences by including petty vendors in the list of services to be taxed led to a furore in the general body meeting on Friday.
The corporators of the ruling Congress joined others in finding fault with officials for levying tax on petty traders selling eatables like idly and dosa prepared at home. The prolonged discussion came to an end only after a detailed explanation was given by Municipal Commissioner G. Ravi Babu, who assured the general body that no tax would be levied on petty vendors.
During a discussion on a proposal to include new trades to the list of trade licences, floor leaders Ch. Babu Rao (CPI-M), Donepudi Sankar (CPI) and Y.V. Ramana Rao (TDP) found fault with the ruling Congress for including trades such as soothsaying in the list for the sake of increasing the revenues of the VMC. They wondered why the corporation was resorting to such a practice without any rationale in levying new taxes.
Even as the discussion was on, Sistla Ramalinga Murthy of the Congress took a strong objection to the proposed levying of tax on idly and dosa vendors in the name of issuing licences to “dangerous and offensive” trades. He sought an explanation from the authorities over the issue and demanded a definition of the words ‘dangerous' and ‘offensive'.
At this juncture, Mayor M.V. Ratna Bindu asked Mr. Ravi Babu to explain about the procedure of giving licences to different trades. Mr. Ravi Babu said that the objective of issuing licences was to bring new trades under the fold of taxation. He observed that many new trades were coming to the fore in the wake of globalisation and the VMC could earn revenue by levying taxes on the new trades. “But we are not going to include traders from the below poverty line in the tax bracket. We are levying taxes only on shopping malls, residential colleges, schools, gym centres, air-conditioned showrooms and the like,” he said.
Ms. Ratna Bindu sought a detailed report on the taxation system, which was expected to be submitted to all the corporators on Saturday.
A detailed discussion took place later on supply of drinking water to various parts of the city during summer and the proposed fire tax. The officials announced that they were gearing up to supply water to the remote areas through tankers and special funds were allocated to mitigate the drinking water problem. Regional Fire Officer D. Murali Mohan made it clear that there was no official communication from the government with regard to the proposed fire tax.
Keywords: Civic authority