Trade licence back in SCB
Trade Licence Back in Secunderabad Cantonment Board, The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) is not leaving an inch where raking in revenues is concerned.
The Secunderabad Cantonment Board (SCB) is not leaving an inch where raking in revenues is concerned. After launching special drives and getting tough against perennial tax defaulters, plugging illegal connections and demolishing illegal structures, the Board is now zeroing in on yet another money-spinner that has remained dormant for nearly 15 years.
Although, a notification for procurement of trade licences was issued in November, the response has been far from encouraging, despite the body mandating the licence on every business establishment, irrespective of their size and business portfolio, within its jurisdiction. In its measured approach and to impress upon the periodical defaulters, who have remained oblivious of the ruling, the Board has slapped fines on 30 select establishments for their failure to get trade licence.
A senior officer has cautioned against serious repercussions if business firms failed to toe the line. Shutting down shops would be the most serious penalty.
The Board’s CEO Sujatha Gupta pointed out that “Unlike other cantonments, the Secunderabad Cantonment has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of commercial activities and the emergence of several establishments, which have sprung up over the years. We have decided to issue trade licence so that there is a semblance of order and uniformity.”
The practice of trade licences was stopped in 2000 as the Floor Space Index (FSI) was 0.5 and anyone wanting to construct buildings had to do so only on 50 per cent of the land. A senior SCB official said it was not practical and violations were taking place following which they stopped issuing licences. Another reason for putting an end to it was the apparent lack of clarity on guidelines. Today the FSI has been raised to 1.5. Licence can be procured under Sec 277 of the Cantonment Act 2006.
A Mahender, Licence Officer, SCB says, “There are totally 52 division of trades including dangerous offensive trades, eating establishments and medical establishments. The annual licence fee per sq. ft varies between Rs 3 and Rs 7, depending on the nature and volume of trade. The rates have been fixed in accordance with GHMC stipulations.
There is also an annual garbage charge that has to be paid along with the annual licence fee which is 100, 50 and 25 per cent depending on the nature of business.
If it is a restaurant, the annual garbage fee would be 100 per cent and for a petty kirana shops, it would be 25 per cent of the annual licence fee.
Akbar Ali, revenue superintendent says, “Till date 1196 applications are issued out of which 600 have applied.” In the recently concluded board meeting 158 commercial establishments were approved for getting trade licence.
There are approximately 10,000 big and small commercial establishments in the Cantonment. A senior official reasons that if all the establishments take trade licence and pay-up, the board would hit an annual jackpot of Rs 4 crore in direct revenue.
Historically, cantonments have less commercial activity. Even in the Secunderabad Cantonment only Lal Bazaar had few shops. However, in the last few decades there has been a spurt in business activity on all fronts. In the established beliefs of more the merrier, a vibrantly non-compromising SCB could find its coffers in sound health.