Shop License Fees War Erupts In Chipinge

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By Felix Matasva

BUSINESSES in Chipinge Town have objected their council’s proposed 2022 shop licence fees saying they are too exorbitant as most companies are still reeling from negative impacts of Covid-19.

Chipinge Town council ran its 2022 budget consultations from 25 October up until 4 November.

A total of 188 businesses Tuesday lodged their objections to proposed 2022 shop license fees through a letter directed to Chipinge Town secretary James Mutemera.

Pick n Pay supermarket, N Richards Wholesale and TV sales were among the top businesses that objected proposed fees together with various small and medium enterprises (SME).

They urged Chipinge local authority to revise its shop license structure to align it with provisions of Shop Licenses 2018 Amendment and Shop Licenses Act 14:17.

“For example, in the proposed fees, Accommodation-Hotel (29-49) beds is classified the same as filling station and a superette (201-500 square metres) at $212 203. We propose that essential services with low profit margins like food establishment must be ranked in the lower tier as risks are too high,” the objection letter reads.

They argued that Council must reduce fees by 40% across board to cushion them whilst realignment process is ongoing.

“The way shop license fees are structured will help in attracting investment in our town, therefore bringing remarkable development that we all desire for. Shop license fees are not the only source of Council’s income therefore our proposal will earnestly be taken on board,” Chipinge business community said.

Mutemera, in an interview with Thursday, said their objections were irrational.

“All licenses were reduced on fire and health by 15%, as some remained the same. Some were raised at a sliding scale of 29%. We were supposed to increase fees for 2022 by 80% since there is inflation,” he said.

“I do not see any reason for objections because issues were not raised during the past budget consultation process. I will be in office on Monday and the budget team will analyse the objections,” he said.

But Chipinge Town Community Association (CTCA) vice chairman Nelson Dhibi fired back saying the proposed license fees are not in sync with prevailing economic conditions.

“The proposed shop licensee fees for SMEs are a bit fair but big organisations have dealt a big blow. On classes for sliding scale using square metres 0,6 remained stagnant, 50-10 was raised by 25%. The 2021 license were already exorbitant band businesses have every right to object the proposed fees,” he said.