The Calcutta Municipal Corporation will lose an estimated Rs 2 crore this year because of a decision to waive the penalty on trade-licence defaulters at the behest of chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The penalty is collected from traders who do not pay their annual trade-licence renewal fee by September 30. The renewal fee varies between Rs 200 and Rs 2,000, depending on the nature of the trade and the space occupied to run it. The penalty for delayed payment is Rs 50 a month.
Last year, the civic body had earned around Rs 2 crore as penalty from trade-licence defaulters.
Civic records show that only 45 per cent of the city’s 5.4 lakh traders deposited their fee by the end of this September. That means around three lakh traders have still to clear their dues.
“The earnings from penalty would have been huge — at least Rs 1.5 crore even if all the defaulters paid up in October,” said a senior official of the civic body.
The money could have been used to build 15 pay-and use toilets in a city that doesn’t have such facilities on most roads.
“Far more important than the Rs 1.5 crore that the CMC lost is the relief we have provided to so many traders,” mayor Sovan Chatterjee told Metro in the first flush of benevolence towards the defaulters.
The waiver apparently came following a petition by some traders that civic officials said misrepresented facts.
These traders had approached Mamata in July, claiming that they had not received their bills by then and would therefore find it difficult to pay the dues by September 30.
A civic official said most of the traders would have got their bills by July and the rest in the beginning of August. “That would have left them with enough time to clear their dues but they claimed a delay on our part and sought a waiver,” a civic official said.
The chief minister agreed, extending the deadline for payment to March 31, 2013. The mayor notified the decision in mid-September.
“Our records show that 4.2 lakh bills had been issued by July,” said an official of the CMC.
The loss from the waiver of penalty is not the only instance of the civic body forgoing sources of income. The CMC has also decided not to collect any tax on advertising along various roads this Puja, apparently on Mamata’s advice. The civic body would need to return a contracted amount of Rs 91.5 lakh to Polycorp, the company that had won the bid to collect tax from advertisers.
In 2011, the civic body had earned Rs 68 lakh from tax on advertisements put up during Puja.