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Visual tax to offset water levy rollback

Big commercial establishments selling their products through shopsigns are the new target of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), scouting for avenues to neutralise the losses in the wake of the water-tax rollback. The CMC stands to lose annual revenue to the tune of Rs 8 crore in the next financial year (2004-2005) if the rollback is effected.

The Trinamul Congress line has forced mayor Subrata Mukherjee to explore ‘voter-friendly’ alternatives to cover up the loss. Hence, ‘visual tax’ on shopsigns will be a new inclusion in the civic budget next year.

According to the CMC Act of 1980, the display of any advertisement material for commercial purposes, even on private premises, falls under the purview of visual tax. The CMC collects visual tax from billboards, publicity kiosks, gates and balloons.

The mayor has targetted the four lakh traders, business establishments and commercial centres in the city who allow big firms to display their brands and product range on their shopsigns.

In Burrabazar, Gariahat, Sealdah, Shyambazar, BBD Bag and Esplanade, there are shops that display half-a-dozen product promotion boards.

“Charges will be levied on these signboards on a square-foot basis and will equal the rate of billboards. The rate for glosigns and neon signs will be higher,” said Mukherjee.

According to civic estimates, an additional visual-tax revenue of Rs 40 crore can be expected from this new source.

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