The much hyped “License at Your Doorstep” project launched by the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) in 2017 to simplify its trade licensing policy has turned into a money spinner for the private agents deployed by the civic body. This was exposed by none other than municipal corporation Dhruv Kishore Patil (BJP) who is from the ruling party.
The civic administration had launched an “Ease of doing Business” initiative by issuing and renewing trade licenses for shops and business establishments at their doorsteps. A private agency was roped in for the purpose whose personnel started approaching business establishments to do the requisite paperwork and formalities including receipt of fees and after scrutiny deliver the license certificate within 24 hours.
“Instead of providing ease to shopkeepers, the agents are fleecing them by demanding bribes under the garb of ignoring needed documents to facilitate licenses. I met deputy civic chief Sanjay Shinde who has assured me to take action,” said Patil.
Documents needed include copy of purchase or rent agreement, property tax receipt and identity proof like PAN card or Aadhar card. However, several shopkeepers claimed that the private agents introduce themselves as MBMC personnel and ask for additional documents like GST clearance, Gumasta license and even fire NOCs, sans which bribes are demanded to ignore and issue licenses.
For running any type of commercial activity in the region, obtaining a trade license from the civic body is a mandatory process. Fixed according to the size of and nature of trade, license fees is a significant component of revenue for the civic body. There are different slabs of annual fee starting from Rs. 500. "We will soon publicize the list of documents needed for the license along with a helpline number to report any kind of demand or harassment,” said an official. There are more than 52,500 big and small commercial establishments in the twin-city.