GCCI supports traders protest against Municipalities Ordinance

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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).