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A Trade License is a mandatory registration document required to start a business in India. This document is one that allows an applicant looking to start a business in a particular trade at a specific area or location. The State Government is the authorized body that issues these licenses. Trade License does not allow an applicant to trade in one particular business only and does not pass any kind of property ownership.

This license is regulated by Municipal Corporation acts of the State Government and is issued after consultations and go-ahead from departments like health, fire, engineering, etc. The license affirms that an enterprise or business is not conducting any unethical methods or using hazardous items that may harm people living in a defined area or locality. Its issuance ensures government to regulate trade activities across the nation.

Statically, trade licenses in India are renewed in between January 1st to March 31st.  The validity of the Trade License is for 1 year and can be renewed every year. The certificate can be renewed between Jan 1 Jan to March 31st. The applicant needs to submit the renewal application within 30 days from the date of expiry of trade license certificate.

Similarly for Tours and Travels, Vehicle licenses, road permits, etc., registrations and renewal of the said registration are required for businesses to continue running without any penalties and/or blacklisting. There was an appeal/advisory issued by Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (SPCC) through a press release on 28th May 2020, which has had many Sikkimese business owners look optimistically at the future as the said appeal might bear some fruit. If the said appeal is implemented, it relaxes the burden from the ongoing economic turbulence and those whose incomes have severely been affected, more so.

SPCC has appealed to the state government demanding a 50 per cent relaxation to all businesses’ license renewal fees. In light of the developments in Sikkim, with the first positive case and the talks of remediation of the economy through different policies, SPCC has provided numerous outlooks and perspectives on various fronts of troubles that several sections of the society is facing.

Placing the press release as an advisory from the opposition, SPCC has kept this appeal of 50 per cent relaxations to businesses ranging from hotel businesses, taxi drivers, tourism businesses (tours and travels, and others) and other small businesses etc. have faced tremendous losses due to lockdown.

“I have a small business of essentials and commodities, I have asked the Municipality to let me continue my business with an expired license and they have let me for the time being. I don’t have any proof of their approval but this is a small town and it is easy for me to explain here. I know that I will have to pay late fees and penalties because of the lockdown, it was the time frame of renewals but what can we do in the lockdown,” says one grocery shop owner from Namchi.

Speaking about his hopes on the 50 per cent relaxations, he adds, “Now that is just an appeal and I have found happiness in expecting the worse, so if they waive off the half of license renewal fee that would help me with two months’ ration for my family which is everything in this lockdown.”

Anjali, a hotel owner from South Sikkim says, “I had been admitted since 5 months and got out just before lockdown. The hospital bills have been pretty hard to deal with and on top, in my absence, my business went down. I have incurred many penalties and also have to pay the late fees. I hope they listen to the people who have appealed because every penny saved comes as a blessing in these trying times.”

“We are fearing the payments of our Insurance, renewal of Bluebook, EMIs of Loans which we are paying off but nothing has been addressed yet about this, and this raises fear and a lot of confusion amongst us drivers. Will there be a relief for us? We don’t know, we also don’t know what we are to do after the lockdown is over and tourism is still closed,” Chandra Mani Dorjee, the Joint Secretary of North Sikkim Tourist Drivers’ Association (NSTDA) had expressed Sikkim Chronicle.

Similarly, Kumar Subba, of NSTDA, had said, “We are afraid our livelihoods will be lost or will sustain huge damage. Even now we have to think about our families, but with the loans, the renewals piling up, our road permits losing validity, it is very hard for us, which is it. We also fear for our lives, the protection of our land and we support this lockdown, but in my shoes, we have another fear of losing our livelihoods.”

Raj Pradhan, a tourist vehicle driver says, “If the half price on renewal fee is appealed for all types of licenses than that would be great because my road permit also lost validity. Even though I have not run on the roads since before the lockdown I have to pay for the renewal, all the same, they should’ve waived it all of if you ask me.”

Whether the advisory cum appeal is taken into consideration or not, people have still been speculating a positive response to their grievances. Persons running small to large-scale businesses have especially been optimistic and hopeful about the government heeding the appeal and relaxing the fees, it is now up to the action plans the state government along with the recommendation by the Economic Revival Committee put forward on the front of renewal of licenses taking the fact that many businesses will have to renew their licenses for a while wile their businesses had remained dormant.

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