Licence renewal is a way of collecting bribes: Traders

BBMP Bengaluru

Say refusal to pay BBMP officials leads to harassment

Traders in Bengaluru think renewal of licence every year is a BBMP ploy to collect bribes.

Siddaram H, president of the Indiranagar Trade Association, said: “BBMP charges extra for bars and restaurants. For instance, they charge Rs 50,000 for renewing a trade licence with one year validity. On top of that, they ask us to pay for the microbrewery in lakhs. My question is, if we are paying for our bar and restaurant, then why do we have to pay for the microbrewery just because they charge according to horsepower?”

Manish Ramaswamy, a shop owner in Jayanagar, said: “Trade licence is important because we can avail MSME loans only if we have a trade licence, but the problem is that we can’t renew our licence online. This gives them the power to collect cash in hand, leading to charging us extra in terms of bribes. If you don’t give bribes, they will harass you.”

Bharat Sairam, owner of Sri Vasani Chats in Jayanagar, said: “We have to renew our trade licence every year, but I feel it’s useless. They should be responsible to clean garbage and make our vicinity better but I never saw them doing this. They collect Rs 2,500 every year to renew my trade licence, but I don’t see any advantage in it.

“If we don’t renew our licence, they will fine us as much as Rs 5,000. Moreover, if we don’t pay them extra, they will refuse to renew our licence.”

The BBMP website has listed trade fees for shops falling under different categories. For instance, the owner of an air-conditioned hotel attached to a bar with more than a 2,000 sqft area has to pay Rs 50,000 to get his trade licence renewed.

Rules regarding licence renewal leave traders divided, while some believe it to be a sensible decision many call it as a way of earning money for officials.  

Sajjan Raj Mehta, a trade activist, was quoted in a Deccan Herald report as saying the practice of trade licence will only increase corruption.

“It is a draconian law and does not serve any purpose. Only officials will be able to make money, troubling the traders to renew licenses. It is even harder to obtain a new licence. While the manufacturing establishments are allowed to operate with one trade licence, we retailers are burdened with a number of licences.”

Dr K.V. Thrilok Chandra, Special Commissioner (Health), BBMP, said: “Trade licence renewal is important because the government uses that money to keep the shops hygienic. We as a local body are responsible for maintaining public health. Earlier BBMP used to renew licences once a year, but now to make traders’ lives easier, it renews licences once in five years.”

Not everyone feels that trade licence renewal is problematic.

Pavan Mishra, manager of Big Mishra Pedha in Jayanagar, said: “We live in a democracy and that’s how it works. If the government does not collect money from us, how will it develop the areas we live in?”

Renewal of trade licences is helpful because it updates the government about the number of people who continue their businesses.

As per a report in the Deccan Herald, BBMP data show a gradual drop in trade licence renewals for three straight years, indicating that businesses may still be recovering from Covid. Out of 51,564 trades, only 36,710 applied for a renewal in 2020-2021. The number dropped to 28,939 in 2021-2022. The decline happened because of the pandemic.

As per, a trade licence is regulated by different state governments and is issued to certify that the business in question is being conducted in accordance with the relevant rules, standards and safety guidelines; thereby, ensuring that the residents are not affected by health hazards, and the nuisance brought forth by the improper and illegal conduct of trade.

Yukta Mudgal
Trainee Journalist at IIJNM.

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