Lost revenue: PMC fails to cash in on roadside businesses

If brought under the tax net, vendors could generate millions for the city.

Proper data is not available with PMC but United Municipal Workers Union General Secretary Muhammad Fazil claims there are at least 5,000 street vendors. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS


The cash-strapped Peshawar Municipal Corporation (PMC) incurs losses worth millions of rupees each year by not regularising street vendors and bringing them under the tax net.

Street vendors allegedly bribe municipal inspectors and other officials with Rs300 to 400 every month to allow them to place their carts along roadsides in violation of anti-encroachment laws.

Interestingly, the PMC cancelled the ‘Tehbazari’ tender for this year on June 30. Under the tender, special passes had been issued to vendors, allowing them to operate in the city. However, the PMC later stated allowing street vendors results in encroachment and causes traffic disruption and congestion on busy thoroughfares.

Though the PMC lacks proper data and documentation regarding the total number of street vendors, United Municipal Workers Union General Secretary Muhammad Fazil claims there are at least 5,000 of them.

“Last year, the PMC auctioned Tehbazari tender for cart vendors at Rs180,000. It was supposed to be auctioned for double the price this year, but the civic administration cancelled it,” Fazil informed. He criticised officials for cancelling the tender, which he claimed generated much-needed revenue for PMC.

Union members had earlier suggested authorities issue special tokens on a daily or weekly basis to vendors for Rs10. They claimed the cart owners would gladly pay the amount because they earn between Rs500 to Rs1,000 every day. “Neither did authorities succeed in completely cleaning up carts from the vicinity, nor do they have any plans to generate revenue from the businesses,” Fazil added.

PMC Administrator Rasheed Khan said the administration has been conducting anti-encroachment drives since the past two months, seizing several carts and imposing fines on numerous vendors.

“Only shops are meant for business; not carts which do not have a proper set up or place,” said Rasheed. He vowed to continue the anti-encroachment campaign until the city is completely clean.

Rasheed insisted vendors make the city look dirty. “There is no way to streamline cart vendors and bring them under the tax net because they are not always in one place. Nor are they doing business permanently,” he claimed.

Fruit vendor Shamshad Khan, who sets up a cart along the roadside in Nishtarabad, said he is ready to pay taxes, but the business needs to regularised. “Regularisation will protect us from the civic administration’s anti-encroachment drive.”

He claimed police officials, traffic wardens and PMC employees routinely buy items from his makeshift stall, but do not pay for the goods sometimes. “They do this because we do not have a business permit.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2013.


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