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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Margao’s civic body criticized for a 45% hike in construction license fees

A group of concerned residents in Margao recently voiced their strong disapproval of the Margao Municipal Council’s decision to implement revised plinth area rates for construction license fees. They believe that this move, once put into effect, will impose an additional financial burden of 38-45% on the people of Margao. This decision has sparked considerable debate and dissent, with residents demanding a reconsideration.

The group, led by the convener of the Shadow Council for Margao, Savio Coutinho, expressed their concerns at a press conference. Carlos Gracias, Aneil Alvares, Lalan Parsekar, Aziz Shah, and Sujata Parsekar were among the prominent figures present at the conference.

Savio Coutinho and the other speakers were steadfast in their opposition to the increased fees. They argued that the adoption of the revised rates for construction licenses would have far-reaching effects on the common people of Margao, leading to not only financial stress but also potential issues related to corruption.

Coutinho emphasized the impact of this decision on various categories of construction. For instance, he highlighted the existing high cost for obtaining a license for a 100 sq m residential house or flat, which stood at Rs 67,614. With the proposed increase, this fee would surge to Rs 93,307, a substantial jump. Similarly, the cost of obtaining a license for a 100 sq m commercial space, which was previously Rs 76,916, would spike to Rs 1,11,530.

Apart from these significant fee increases, Coutinho pointed out additional charges that would be imposed based on various amenities and features provided within the premises. These include charges related to lifts, types of flooring, and architectural elements. These additional costs have raised concerns among the public, not just because of the financial burden but also due to the potential for corrupt practices.

One particularly alarming aspect pointed out by Coutinho was the possibility that these increased rates would eventually be applied to house tax calculations, leading to a manifold increase in house taxes for residents in the long run. This would have severe implications for the already financially burdened citizens of Margao.

This issue didn’t escape the attention of the Margao Municipal Council itself. During a council meeting held on Friday, it was debated intensely, resulting in a division among the council members. The council’s chairperson, Damodar Shirodkar, who was in favor of adopting the revised rates, explained the reasons behind the decision. He highlighted that this move was necessary to prevent adverse remarks from the government’s audit team and to increase the revenue of the municipality.

Shirodkar’s stance was met with opposition from those who believed that this decision would disproportionately affect the common people and potentially lead to various complications, including the increased cost of living and possible opportunities for corruption. It’s evident that the issue of revised construction license fees has stirred a hornet’s nest of controversy and concern in Margao.

The residents’ outcry against the proposed 45% increase in construction license fees is not without merit. The financial implications of such a significant hike could have a cascading effect on the daily lives and economic stability of Margao’s populace. The increased fees for residential and commercial spaces, as cited by Coutinho, are substantial.

For a 100 sq m residential house or flat, the current fee of Rs 67,614 is already a significant expense for many. The proposed fee hike, which would take it to Rs 93,307, presents a steep increase that homeowners will have to bear. Similarly, businesses with 100 sq m of commercial space, previously paying Rs 76,916 for a license, would see their expenses skyrocket to Rs 1,11,530 if the new rates are adopted.

The concern doesn’t stop at these elevated license fees. The additional charges linked to various amenities and features within the premises, such as lifts, types of flooring, and architectural details, raise eyebrows for multiple reasons. Residents fear that these added costs not only put extra financial pressure on builders but also open the door to possible corrupt practices, as those in power might exploit these fees for personal gain.

A particularly alarming aspect is the potential spillover of these increased rates into house tax calculations. This could lead to a considerable escalation in house taxes, which would undoubtedly impact the already strained budgets of Margao’s residents.

Given these concerns, it’s unsurprising that the issue has provoked intense debate and division within the Margao Municipal Council. The council chairperson, Damodar Shirodkar, has argued in favor of implementing the revised rates. He emphasized the need to do so in order to avert unfavorable comments from the government’s audit team and to boost the municipality’s revenue.

However, this rationale is being met with strong opposition from those who believe that the consequences of the decision far outweigh the potential benefits. The general sentiment among these opponents is that the revised rates will disproportionately affect the average citizens of Margao. Moreover, they raise concerns about the broader impact on the cost of living and the potential for corruption in the region.

The proposed 45% increase in construction license fees in Margao has sparked a significant controversy and drawn attention to the potential financial burden it might place on residents. The debate continues, with some advocating for the need to implement these higher rates for the benefit of the municipal budget, while others stress the need to consider the well-being of the common people in Margao. The outcome of this contentious issue will likely have far-reaching consequences for the community and its financial stability.

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