The GHMC estimates that there could be more than three lakh business and trade establishments in the capital. Yet, it has 1.29 lakh only on its database while trade licence fees are collected promptly each year from less than half of them in the five years of its existence when the erstwhile MCH was clubbed with the surrounding municipalities.
With three months to go for the financial year to end, 2,800 fresh trade licences were issued with a revenue collection of Rs.3 crore and 26,000 trades have come forward for the annual renewal netting Rs.14 crore, senior municipal officers said.
There are also about 7,000 applications pending at various levels either for renewal or issuing fresh licences. Every year, the civic body has been claiming that new businesses such as hostels, curry points and the like are being brought into the tax fold. It should have increased the revenue by leaps and bounds.
However, it has not happened.
The very fact that a pilot survey study taken up in the Kukatpally circle alone has shown more than 4,000 business units outside the tax ambit is a glimpse of the inadequacies of the system with annual revenue hovering around Rs.18 crore.
One reason could also be the inadequate number of revenue gathering personnel as there is a single assistant licensing officer for two circles. Trade licence issuance is looked after by the health and sanitation personnel because it comes under the dangerous & objectionable trades!
Commissioner M.T. Krishna Babu has recently reviewed the licensing system and observed that at least Rs.60 crore can be collected if the job is done properly. In the last few months, municipal authorities have been trying out innovative measures such as allowing business units to make their own self-assessment online and soon hand-held Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) are to be issued for the licensing personnel instead of ‘mee seva’ only route for payments.
It was also decided to make provisional that licence be issued upon application and a final one within three months after inspection by the authority concerned. Licence fee depends on the trade, location and size of the unit. Top licence defaulters are to be identified in each circle and special drives conducted.
A panel consisting of senior officials of the finance wing as well as zonal and circle officials will come out with fresh guidelines. This will be besides steps to survey all the circles for unearthing tax evaders, senior officials affirmed.
At least Rs.60 crore can be collected if the job is done properly: GHMC Commissioner