Akshaya entrepreneurs in Ernakulam up in arms over non-revision of service fee


Over 250 Akshaya entrepreneurs in the district are up in arms over the non-revision of service fee in the past five years and against the alleged persecution by enforcement agencies for not strictly following the rate card, which, they complained, was not in consonance with the current price trends.

The fresh heartburn comes in the wake of a recent raid conducted by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) targeting Akshaya centres across the State.

Saljith Pattathanam, secretary, Akshaya Welfare Association, which predominantly operates in Ernakulam, accused that in its 21 years of operation, the rates were revised only once in 2018 and that it did more damage than good. “When Akshaya centres started operations, rates were fixed for some 15-odd services that entailed logins, leaving entrepreneurs to charge reasonable fee for other services. But the 2018 revision brought all 50-odd services under its ambit and worse still, rates were set at rock bottom without considering the price indices,” he rued.

For instance, as per the rate card, the fee of biometric updating for Aadhaar continues to be ₹25. This despite the fact that the UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) having revised it to ₹100 including Goods and Service Tax.

The State government’s decision to reduce the fee of doorstep mustering for welfare pension has also come as a blow to Akshaya entrepreneurs. “From ₹130 per household, it was brought down to ₹50. Worse still, rather than the government paying it, entrepreneurs were made to collect it directly from the beneficiaries many of whom were not in a position to even pay that. The fee is unfeasible especially in places where houses are separated by long distances and don’t even cover the fuel expenses of entrepreneurs,” said Mr. Pattathanam.

He alleged that at least on three occasions, the Kerala State IT Mission had called meetings of stakeholders for rate revision only to cancel it in the last minute.

“Forget about the rate revision, we are slapped with a fine of ₹5,000 for not displaying the rate card, which majority of our customers themselves know didn’t reflect the current price trends. It has come to a point where we are made to look cheats for running centres set up at our own investments,” said an Akshaya entrepreneur on condition of anonymity.

The minimum cost of setting up a centre comes to about ₹6 lakh while it involves a monthly operational expenses of about ₹70,000. “While centres having Aadhaar enrolment somehow manage things, for the rest, it remains a challenge to even break-even during some months,” said Mr. Pattathanam.


Mohd Aman

Editor in Chief Approved by Indian Government

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