MARGAO: With the DMA’s office clarification that Sopo fees cannot be waived, the Shadow Council for Margao demanded that the outstanding arrears of the Sopo Contractor be recovered immediately. Alternatively, the 16 councillors who supported the decision for waiver should deposit 2 lakhs each in the Municipal treasury, and subsequently justify the waiver, Mr. Coutinho stated.
SCM Convener Mr. Savio Coutinho informed that he was in receipt of copy of a letter addressed to the Chief Officer of MMC, in connection with the complaint filed by the Shadow Council for Margao. In the complaint dtd 28/03/2022 to the DMA, the SCM raised strong objections against Council’s decision to waive 32 lakhs of Sopo Contractor’s outstanding installments.
The SCM had demanded that the Council resolution dtd 24th March 2022 be scrapped in the interest of the public treasury. The SCM had also pointed out that even the traders from Margao who had requested for 50% reduction in the trade/signboard/sanitation fees on account of the total Lockdown, were not granted the relief. In such circumstances how could the Sopo Contractor be granted such a huge waiver of 32 lakhs for the period of April 2021 to August 2021, when the Lockdown was partial, SCM questioned.
SCM had also pointed out in its representation that the Sopo Contractor had participated in the auction well aware of the prevalent conditions in April 2021, and claims for waiver during the very first month of the contract, which is the most foolish claim that the Council could accept.
Granting a 100% waiver of monthly installments suggests that the Sopo Contractor did not collect any Sopo fees during those months. On the contrary, the Sopo Contractor had a field during the COVID pandemic situation as they fleeced the illegal vendors all over the city, charging them exorbitant fees, Mr. Coutinho charged.
This, the MMC, is the first public office we find, which has a different rule for the “son-in-law” Sopo Contractor. Normally every other office, first directs the party to deposit the fees first, and then raise a dispute, Mr. Coutinho stated further.
The Sopo Contractor is very liberally allowed to collect Sopo fees since 1st April of the new financial year, even as the Chairperson is yet to prepare the resolution/ minutes of the Council meeting dtd 24/03/2022, Mr. Coutinho informed.
“Such blatant illegality with public funds seems to be the order of the day, of this Council supported by the Model Margao-Fatorda Forward alliance”, Mr. Coutinho rues.
SCM warned that if the outstanding installments are not recovered within 15 days from today, they would file before the competent authority including the court of law.