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Trade fee hike after talks

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya has said that a final decision on a hike in trade licence fees in the city will be taken soon. Reacting to the fee-hike proposal sent by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), Bhattacharya said on Wednesday that the civic body can’t impose the new rates without a clearance from the government.

The CMC had sent a proposal to the government a fortnight ago, suggesting that the trade licence fee ceiling in the CMC areas be raised to Rs 2,500 from the existing Rs 100 (which includes trade licence fee and garbage clearance fee).

Learning of the CMC move to hike trade licence fees, traders from the city expressed anger and threatened to go on an indefinite trade bandh from Thursday.

The traders’ body met the urban development minister and urged him not to effect a stiff hike in fees. The strike call was withdrawn after the minister assured them that the matter will be looked into. “We will take a final decision on the proposal to raise trade licence fees after holding discussions with all concerned. Until a new Act is formulated, the old rates will stay,” Bhattacharya said.

The minister said trade licence fees in other municipal towns have already been hiked, and the ceiling has been made Rs 500. “The new rate has been imposed in all the municipalities, but no new rate has been fixed for the CMC and Howrah Municipal Corporation. However, there will be a hike and the amount will be decided soon,’’ he added.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee said it was up to the government to accept the fee-hike proposal or not. “The proposal was passed in the House of the CMC before being sent to the government, which has the right to accept, further increase or reduce it,” said Mukherjee.

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