Ankur Gupta, Commissioner of Ward 6, Jorhat Municipal Board in separate mails to the Director, district administration, Dispur and deputy commissioner, Jorhat has indicted the Jorhat Municipal Board of functioning in an arbitrary manner as regards increase of trade license fees. The letters also list a series of other services offered by the Board which are not being properly executed.
Gupta stated that according to the Assam Municipal Board Act 1956 Section 79 F the rate of taxes determined under this Act should be published by the Municipal Board/Town Committee by issuing a public notice within a period of three months from the coming into force of the Municipal Board (Amendment) Act, 2012.
“This, however, was not done and the traders had to pay hefty amounts while renewing trade licenses without any prior notice,” Gupta said.
Gupta further said that the decision was taken on December 30 to raise the taxes but the state had not been informed of this decision and why and on what basis this was raised.
The tremendous increase of rates has led to heartburn among the business community and about 10 organisations including Upper Assam Chamber of Commerce has written to the Board in protest against the steep hike and reduction of the taxes.
He said that the Board just formed a committee of four members to look after complaints in this regard and washed their hands off the matter.
Pawan More, secretary, Upper Assam Chamber of Commerce affirmed the steep and arbitrary hike in taxes, about four to 10 times the former amount for different slabs.
“We complained several times and even showed the rate hikes some of which had gone up from Rs 2500 per annum to Rs 10000, and some even more and the Chairman even acknowledged that these were very and that he would reduce it but we are still receiving complaints and nothing has been done,” he said.
More further said that if the traders had to pay taxes through their nose, they would evidently increase prices of goods and then there would be more hue and cry. He pointed out the strange manner in which categories were differentiated.
“A grocery shop selling salt and another selling mustard oil had to pay different taxes. Where have you heard that the taxes are levied on the basis of goods sold and not on the grocery shop as a whole. Likewise is the case of hardware stores and hospitals which are differentiated on the basis of goods and services provided like operation theatres, ICUs, etc, are having to pay different taxes, “he said.
Gupta in his letter further said that the Board was not functioning properly.
“Cleaning garbage, street lights, water supply schemes are not working at par. Issuing of birth and death certificates takes two months though the JMCH gives the documents within a week. Pounds to shelter cows are yet to be built,” he said.
“Moreover, the High Court order directing the Board to collect parking fees instead of giving it to lessees as the contract period had gotten over, was being violated,” he further alleged.