Shopkeepers oppose levy of user charges for garbage collection

‘Almost all businesses hit due to the pandemic’

Even as the State government is asking the corporations to speed up the collection of user charges, owners of various commercial establishments, small-scale businessmen and shopkeepers from the city have been strongly opposing the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation’s (GVMC) decision to levy user charges for garbage collection. They question the decision to levy additional taxes when almost all businesses are hit due to the COVID-19.

According to members of the hoteliers association, after the second wave almost 30% of hotels have been closed down due to financial crunch. Another 10% of owners are ready to sell the ownership, but none are coming forward to buy due to fear of third wave and imposing of further restrictions.

Most of the owners are financially hit and unable to pay salaries to the workers. They criticise the GVMC for deciding to levy ₹500 to ₹1,500 per month as garbage collection charges based on the size of hotels and restaurants.

“Hotel industry is one of the sectors which are badly hit due to the COVID-19. During the first wave, the government had provided several concessions. But now, the situation is worse. Almost 90% hotels are medium-sized. The government should help us by waiving of taxes this year, but not by levying additional taxes,” said A. Venkata Ramana Murthy, a resident of MVP Colony and the president of the A.P. Hotels Association.

The commercial establishment owners said that the government is already proposing to increase property tax and now imposing a special tax to collect garbage and penalties on late payment is not justified.

S. Venkatesh, who runs a fast-food centre at Jagadamba Junction, said that already a number of people had stopped coming to fast-food centres due to fear of overcrowding and collecting charges during such a scenario is very unfortunate. “Now we need to pay₹300 for the fast-food centre and again ₹120 for our house,” he said.

Several shopkeepers and establishment owners said that the GVMC should have consulted various associations before revising charges.

Sri Ram, who runs a meat shop in the city, said that due to restrictions in timings and ban on sale of meat in the weekends for the past two months, the business has been hit. “The situation is only improving now. I was learnt that, I should pay ₹700 per month as charges from the next month. Collecting some charge is fine, but ₹700 is very high,” he said.

“The user charges for fast-food centres, juice shops, bakeries, food points and all other small-scale business should be fixed at ₹50, said Sashi, who runs a curry point as well as fast-food centre at MVP Colony.

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