Recent action by the Coimbatore Corporation flying squads against commercial establishments for COVID-19 safety guideline violations has revealed that several such establishments were run without the mandatory Dangerous and Offensive (D&O) Trade licence.
The Corporation levies the licence fee, renewable annually, on around 225 types of commercial establishments and it varies depending on the type of trade, property tax paid for the building that houses the establishment, number of people employed etc.
Corporation officials, who are members of the flying squads, said that on a day they shut more than 20 shops for not maintaining visitors register, placing hand sanitisers or enforcing physical distance norms, they found more than 80% shops without the licence and the rest with expired licence.
And, it so happened that the shops were identified as spots that led to the spread of COVID-19 in the respective localities.
At a time when the Corporation was looking at COVID-19 violations, it should also look at commercial establishments that did not have D&O licence and act against those, for it meant loss of revenue. The Corpo ration had set a collection target of 4 crore as D&O licence fee for the current financial year. It set 3.82 crore for the last financial year, but collected only 3.45 crore.
Sources said that the Corporation should also look at revising the licence fee, for the last time it revised the fee was sometime in the year 2000.
That the Corporation had not revised the fee but revised property tax and water charges showed that it had not paid attention to the stream of revenue.
The last time the Corporation addressed the D&O licence issue was in 2013 when it expanded the scope of the licence net by adding 58 more trades to the 166 on hand and asked sanitary inspectors to bring in one trader a day into the tax net.
The move saw the revenue from D&O licence increase from 1.50 crore in December 2012 to 3.28 crore in December 2013 and 3.89 crore in 2014. Unless the Corporation officials gave a push in this regard very little forward movement would be seen.