Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 25:
The Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA) has threatened to stop the import of essential commodities-pulses, wheat and wheat products, sugar, rice and edible oil from other states from April 1 protesting against 5% value added tax (VAT) imposed on these items by the state government.
The traders’ body has been demanding imposition of unitary tax instead of 5% VAT on these items.
The FAOTA had also earlier threatened to stop the import of such items and in June 2015 following which the state government had formed a committee to resolve the issue and had promised to solve the issue within three months.
The Association claimed that it has been forced to take the extreme step since the government failed to take any action in the matter.
“Out of 29 states in the country, 25 have no taxes on these items. Odisha is consuming state and to import these items it entails a freight cost of 5-7% and after adding 5% VAT it adds a cost burden of 12% on the customer. Despite that, the government is also not getting the amount of revenue it ought to get on the basis of 5% VAT. It’s only getting one-tenth of the revenue it’s supposed to get. About 90% of the revenue which should have come to the government’s coffers is lost to unscrupulous traders. Then in whose interest is this 5% VAT being levied at? In protest against this faulty taxation system in the state, we will stop the import of all essential commodities like pulses, wheat and wheat products, sugar, rice and edible oil from other states beginning April 1. However, we will supply whatever stocks of these items we have at fair prices to consumers,” said Sudhakar Panda, secretary of Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA)
Notably, the state consumes about 67,000 metric tonne (MT) of pulses and 12,000 MT of wheat products every month. A chunk of the consumption is imported from other states.