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Civic body plans steps to stop fleecing of customers

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The Hindu        10.08.2017  

Civic body plans steps to stop fleecing of customers

Corporation health wing to conduct inspections at malls

The health wing of the Kochi Corporation, in association with the Legal Metrology Department, will conduct inspections at malls and shopping complexes to find out if customers are charged over and above the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) for packaged food products.

The decision of the civic body to crack down on traders who fleece customers was announced by Mayor Soumini Jain on Wednesday.

“After the joint inspections, the civic body will follow them up,” she said. Deputy Mayor T.J. Vinod and councillors V.P. Chandran and Antony Painuthara said cinema hall owners had been exploiting customers.

Mr. Vinod pointed out that some theatre managements had indiscriminately hiked ticket rates after the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“Post-GST, the civic bodies have no role in controlling pricing, as taxes are paid online, and tickets need not be stamped by them. This has resulted in huge financial loss on account of entertainment tax. Annually, the Kochi Corporation loses around Rs. 14 crore. It should be compensated,” Mr. Vinod said.

Ms. Jain said the issue would be brought to the notice of the State government.

 

Tough choices ahead for Corporation

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The Hindu       10.08.2017 

Tough choices ahead for Corporation

Road works stalled as contractors protest over GST charges

The city Corporation is left with some hard choices to bring an end to the tender boycott by its contractors after the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) which has stalled road works in the city. It could either revise the estimates by cutting down on the volume of work, thus earning the displeasure of the councillors or bear the extra costs from its own funds, at a time when it is reeling from loss of entertainment revenues.

The Mayor has called for a meeting with representatives of the six contractors’ unions in the city Corporation to bring an amicable settlement to the issue. Officials from the Taxes Department will also participate to communicate with the contractors.

Last month, all the contractors unions decided to boycott the tender process for works to be carried out in the city roads, citing the increase in their financial burden after the implementation of GST. Earlier, the tax for civil works were fixed at 6%, including Value Added Tax (VAT) of 4%, welfare fund contribution of 1% and income tax of 1%. Post- GST, this tax component has increased to 18%.

Thin margin

“Already, we were having only a thin margin of profits for works taken up in the Corporation. The GST has come as a huge blow. We decided to stay away from the tender process as there was no point in it, if we are not getting any profits from this. The issue can be solved if the Corporation is ready to bear the extra burden,” says contractor Anil.

Though the Corporation officials are hinting at a reduction of the tax to 12% by the GST council, no official decision has been communicated yet.

“By the time GST was implemented, we had got the technical sanctions and began the tender process. Only, VAT was considered in these estimates. Now, revising the estimates is not practical. The councillors will not agree to the cutting down of the already estimated works. The State Government has to take a decision on whether we can revise the estimates or make it up from our own funds. More clarity will be there after the government publishes a revenue note regarding this,” said the Corporation Mayor V.K.Prasanth.

Meanwhile, contractors who are not part of any of the six unions, bid successfully for the tenders of few works in the Kazhakuttam zone. The unions are seeing this as an attempt by the local body to defeat their tender boycott.


  • Mayor has called for a meeting with six contractors’ unions
  • Other contractors bid successfully for tenders in Kazhakuttam zone
 

Streetlights, overflowing drains, most reported civic problems

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The Hindu       04.08.2017  

Streetlights, overflowing drains, most reported civic problems

Half the problems reported were from four districts in the State

Non-functioning streetlights across the urban local bodies (ULBs) have turned out to be the most annoying issue for the city dwellers. A majority of the grievances reported to the local bodies through call centres or directly to the municipal administration department using the integrated web portal and the mobile application were about them.

According to the reports on the Municipal Administration Grievance Dashboard, the department received 63,273 complaints from the ULBs in the 13 districts from January 1 to Wednesday (August 2) and 96% of the complaints had been solved. Of the grievances reported in the last seven months, 11,585 were about streetlights. Most of the traditional streetlights had been replaced with LED bulbs across the State as part of the energy saving initiative.

Poor drainage system, dumping of debris and garbage on public places also turned troublesome for the public. About 9,000 complaints each had been reported during the last seven months. Regarding garbage, 5,129 complaints were made. Next on the list were poor drinking water, the absence of sanitation staff and overflowing underground drainages. The reports revealed that half the problems reported were from just four districts — East Godavari, Kadapa, Kurnool and West Godavari — indicating that most of the problems were occurring at the ULBs other than municipal corporations.

In East Godavari alone, 10,098 complaints had been reported so far this year. In the last one month, the majority of the 8,467 complaints were over streetlights followed by open drains, UGD and drinking water. However, only 81% of the complaints had been resolved so far. On Wednesday, about 171 complaints had been received.

 


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