Revised rates to pinch hawkers and advertisers in Mumbai

Hawkers and advertisers will feel the pinch due to the increase of their monthly hoarding and hawking charges, as MCGM gears up to usher in a new tariff regime

Hawkers and advertisers will feel the pinch with the increase of their monthly hoarding and hawking charges as the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), which is reeling under a financial crisis, is likely to implement revised rates, reports PTI.

According to MCGM, the monthly advertisement and hoarding charges are likely to be increased by nearly 50%. At present MCGM charges for hoardings, billboards, wall paintings, balloon ads and street furniture are Rs300 per square meter (sq m) per month. This will be hiked to Rs550 per sq m.

"The civic body will hike charges to be collected from hawkers and those putting up hoardings as well. The increase in charges of both advertisements and hoardings have been approved by the law committee," a civic official from the license department said.

"The hoarding fees have been passed by a general body meeting as well, but (the proposed increase in) hawking charges still awaits a nod," the official added.

MCGM's finance division has instructed all departments to cut down on expenditure and revise rates of civic services to tide over the financial crisis.

Charges for neon signs and electronic scrollers along with other outdoor media vehicles will be increased from Rs450 to Rs800. Cost for billboards on top of buildings, government buses, and electricity poles will be increased from Rs120 to Rs200.

Hawking fees for both roving and sitting hawkers have been doubled. For roving hawkers, the charges will be increased from Rs25 per sq m to Rs50 per sq m and for sitting hawkers from Rs90 per sq m to Rs180 per sq m.

The city has nearly 4.5 lakh hawkers of which around 15,000 are authorised to carry out their business. There are 2,300 different kinds of hoardings in the city.

"The civic body earns Rs61 crore from hoardings and after implementation of revised rates it is likely to earn another Rs35 crore," the official said.

The MCGM had revised the license fee for hawkers and hoarding fees for advertisers in 1997 and 2003, respectively.

"Every year there will be a 10% increase in both the charges," the official said.

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    TVS Motor will not hike prices next month

    The prices for TVS Motor vehicles will not increase from next month. However, by April 2010, analysts believe that the consumer may have to spend more for TVS vehicles

    India’s third largest two-wheeler maker TVS Motor Co Ltd has said that it is not going to increase prices despite rising steel costs. However, analysts believe that the company would increase prices from the next fiscal.

    A senior official from TVS Motor said, “I don’t think that TVS Motors will increase the prices of its vehicles in January despite higher steel prices. However, the company may review prices in the next two-three months.”

    Automakers are planning to go for price hikes in a phased manner—the first hike will be in January followed by another hike in April next year.

    Analysts said that TVS Motor may not be affected by the current rise in steel prices because the company has contracts for steel supply till the first quarter of next year.

    However, with the replacement of Bharat Stage Norms (BSN)-II by BSN-III in April 2010, the company may make the consumer spend more due to the improvement in its engines, the analyst said.

    According to a PTI report, TVS Motor, which started exports of its three-wheelers a couple of months back, is also planning to venture into new markets like Bangladesh, Mexico, Peru and Guatemala.

    "Our plan is to enter the diesel passenger market in the auto-rickshaw category of three-wheelers and we should be able to accomplish this within 18-24 months," HS Goindi, TVS Motor’s president for marketing told the media. The diesel three-wheeler will target the semi-urban and rural markets, he said, without disclosing details.

    Mr Goindi said that the company had a presence in two-stroke and four-stroke engine segments in petrol, LPG and CNG variants.

    According to data from the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), TVS Motor sold 11,36,344 units of two-wheelers in the domestic market in 2008-09.

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    What will SEBI decide today?

    The directors of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will meet under the chairmanship of Mohandas Pai (director of Infosys Technologies Ltd) to decide on the National Securities Depository Ltd (NSDL) issue after its controversial decision to declare two orders of the Mohan Gopal-V Leeladhar (both SEBI board members) committee as void or 'non est'.

    All these manoeuvres are to protect SEBI chairman CB Bhave, who used to head the NSDL and has adopted the posture that the depository is virtually beyond criticism. When Mr Bhave took over as SEBI chairman, the finance ministry devised a ‘ring fence’ to shield him from the punitive action against NSDL that was initiated in the aftermath of the IPO scam of 2006 (where some investor cornered a big chunk of shares reserved for retail investors by using trickery to file multiple applications). The NSDL was accused of failing to detect tens of thousands of multiple applications even when the scamsters brazenly consolidated them into seven or eight accounts prior to issue opening.
    It may be recalled that SEBI had suppressed the orders of the Gopal-Leeladhar committee for almost a year and made them public only after a public interest litigation was filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court forcing their disclosure. Even then, the board decided to declare the orders 'non est' on the rather dubious excuse that the committee had exceeded its powers by criticising SEBI itself. It then decided to hear the NSDL issue afresh and 'dispose of the case'. It is largely believed that the SEBI board will give NSDL a clean chit.
    This view has since been criticised by Justice JS Verma, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Justice Verma had opined that "the recent decision (of the) SEBI board to review and declare as ‘non-est’ two quasi judicial orders of SEBI violates established legal and Constitutional principles. These quasi judicial orders may be reviewed only by a judicial forum with requisite jurisdiction, at the instance of a petitioner with standing to seek relief."
    When the SEBI board meets today under Mohandas Pai's leadership, it will have to discuss Justice Verma's opinion, while earlier, it has acted on an opinion by C Achuthan, former presiding officer of the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT). Opinion among legal circles as well as the capital market is that Justice Verma's reputation and the succinct views in his opinion carry far more weight. The question is: Will the SEBI board ignore all this?
    There is also another issue about Mr Achuthan's opinion that will have to be considered by the board. The SEBI committee which obtained Mr Achuthan's opinion, had omitted to take into account that he is a director of the National Stock Exchange (NSE). More pertinently, his firm has represented the registrar Karvy and several other firms indicted by SEBI in the IPO scam. There is a strong view that this represents a conflict of interest that was not openly disclosed to the board by SEBI officials who are working overtime to protect Mr Bhave or follow his diktat.
    There is also an opinion among legal circles that the entire SEBI board cannot act as a quasi-judicial body to decide matters that are controversial.
    It now remains to be seen if the SEBI board, which includes representatives of the finance ministry, ministry of company affairs as well as the Reserve Bank of India decide to brazen it out and dispose of the NSDL issue under Mohandas Pai's chairmanship.
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