Panjim Hotel and Traders Association (PHTA) are miffed with the City Corporation of Panaji (CCP) over the annual hike in various taxes and want the civic body to provide immediate relaxation, besides being given the assurance that taxes would not be increased each year.
The body that has threatened strike if their demands are not met is keen to ensure that rules apply with equal proportions among all establishments, big or small and no section is provided undue advantage and benefits.
Talking to Herald, Convenor Panjim Hotel and Traders Association Bernabe Sapeco said they would meet former Panjim MLA Siddharat Kuncolienkar and former Taleigao MLA Atanasio Monserrate and seek their support on the issue, adding that they had already petitioned State government and would not keep quite unless their demands were met.
PHTA will soon convene the general body meeting where decision on the future course of action would be taken.
“Our only question is, why are only we being targeted by the CCP? Why no licensing policy is applicable for the kiosks serving food in the city? They also come under CCP jurisdiction. Let CCP tax them also,” he said underlining that the issue was not only about Fire NOC but the random hike in CCP taxes on trade licence, garbage, signboards and house tax, every year, which overburdens the tax payers.
We want the CCP to simplify the licensing policy and reduce the fee structure, the PHTA convenor said.
On being asked if their demands were justifiable, he said emphasised that there should be some relaxation in the fee hike as they have been paying various taxes.
“We have already said that all the hoteliers, traders and others will pay the food and drug administration fees, shop establishment and excise fees, fire NOC renewal fees and will not pay no other taxes.”
Panjim Mayor has emphasised that the Panjim Hotel and Traders Association (PHTA) is making such a hue and cry about the taxes due to the notifications on Fire NOC and that nothing has changed over the years.
Talking to Herald on the protest called by PHTA against the hike in taxes Vithal Chopdekar, Mayor CCP said all these years the traders had no objections or so-call protest against the tax payment, as it has always been part of the licence renewal policy.
“It is nothing new, we have been charging and hiking the taxes on trade licence, garbage, signboards every year. The decision is taken during the Budget meeting. As far as Fire NOC is concerned, those are the directions from the district collector and we have to abide by it,” he underlined.
However, Chopdekar said was ready to provide some relaxation on the Fire NOC issue. “I spoke to the Commissioner, who affirmed that a relaxation up to June can be granted to the hoteliers and traders to make payment and get the fire NOC is place. We are ready to do that. “
He pointed out that some establishments had approached the government last week on the fire NOC issue and now they were threatening with a protest.
“The fire mechanism is mandatory for their safety and not for us. And the hike in taxes is mandatory for revenue generation for the corporation, as it is a major source of revenue for the Corporation. We can grant them relaxation but not possible to withdraw it,” he emphasised.
Stressing that the finally decision rests with government; Chopdekar said Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza has called a meeting of hoteliers, traders and CCP this week to discuss and iron out the issue.