The Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industries (GCCI) is supporting traders in the state who are against the Goa Municipalities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020. In a letter of support to the Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant, the GCCI has said that, while it agrees that the ordinance is intended to take care of certain irregularities in transfer and renewal of leases and also to increase the revenues for municipalities, it does not address the concerns and apprehensions of the existing shop holders.
GCCI said that, a prior consultation and discussion with the stakeholders would have helped in understanding the issues currently being faced by the shop keepers and would have resulted in a more humane and progressive legislation. According to the GCCI, ground realities, rent rates, etc., are different at different municipalities and the current ordinance by covering all municipalities at one go, does not take into account the differences. For instance, some of the lessees have built the premises with permission of the municipality with the self finance by taking loans. “So all holders cannot be treated with the same yardstick,” said GCCI.
Termination of leases after 10 years, annual increase in rent by 10 per cent, automatic termination if lease is not renewed, seizure of shop for failure to pay lease and section 88 a, b, c are some of the concerns of traders against the ordinance.
“The small traders are already under threat due to the un-checked proliferation of e-commerce. They have suffered due to the lockdown. Instead of harassing them further by bringing such a harsh legislation by way of an ordinance at this juncture, the municipalities should have discussed their intent with the stakeholders and given them some time to react and suggest mutually beneficial options,” says the letter signed by Manoj Caculo, president, GCCI.
The automatic termination of lease if not renewed is a “harsh provision,” said GCCI and suggested that, shop keepers should be given at least two month’s notice for renewal of the lease and “if the lease is not renewed even after the expiry of two months then only it may stand terminated with thirty days notice to the lessee for repossession.”
Terminating the lease for failure to pay rent is also “another very harsh provision” said GCCI suggesting that, at least six month time be given to the premises holder before any harsh action is initiated.
The GCCI is against section 88A that prohibits unauthorized transfer of premises. “We suggest that the Municipalities provide an opportunity to the holders to officially transfer the premises to third parties by taking proper authorisation with the transfer fees as prescribed under Section 88D may be charged,” said GCCI, in its letter to the Chief Minister.
The letter calls for withdrawing of section 88B and 88C (penalty and offences to be cognizable and non-bailable) and changing the definition of member of family of lessee laid down in section 2 (25a).