Discussion on hike in trade licence fee
Discussion organised by CPI(M)Speakers allege that VMC officials are acting like `dictators'
VIJAYAWADA: The difficulties that small businesses are facing in the form of alleged harassment by officials and the problem of competition from big corporate companies came into sharp focus at a round table discussion organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday on the issue of hike of trade licence fee by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation. Representatives of various merchant associations said they were not in a position to pay various kinds of fee that were being hiked `arbitrarily' by the VMC.
Some of the speakers alleged that VMC officials were behaving like `dictators.'
Hotel Owners' Association secretary K. Pattabhi said that the VMC was hiking the Dangerous and Offensive (D&O) trade licence fee under the garb of `regularisation'. The authorities' contention was that the licence fee was being fixed on the basis of monthly rental value. But most hoteliers were already paying property tax on the basis of monthly rental value, and there were no precedents for fixing the D&O licence fee on the basis of monthly rental value, he maintained.
Jaikumar, a Besant Road merchant, said there was no need for the Government to give exemptions to merchants. It was sufficient if they gave small businesses a free hand to compete with the chain of stores being opened by big corporate groups. There was a drastic fall in the business in One Town because of the traffic restrictions, and the same would now happen to Besant Road because of the latest restrictions, the speakers feared.
Joint action urged
Vijayawada Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Gaddam Subba Rao suggested that all merchant associations submit a representation to the municipal authorities demanding that the proposal to increase the trade licence fee be withdrawn immediately.
Ch. Babu Rao, CPI (M) State executive member and floor leader in the VMC general body, said representatives of various merchant associations should submit a joint representation to the Mayor and Municipal Commissioner before the subject was tabled at the VMC general body meeting on March 23.
CPI (M) city secretary R. Raghu felt that the hike of trade licence fees should not be seen in isolation. If hundreds lost their jobs and purchasing power came down, the merchants would be affected, he explained.
Vijayawada Chamber of Commerce and Industry's former general secretary Ch. Chowdary, Cloth Merchants Association president Goli Prasada Rao, Commercial Traders Association president Koteswara Rao and others participated in the round table conference.