Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 4:
Alleging that the state government has remained impassive to its long-standing demand, the Odisha Byabasayi Mahasangh has decided to stop the import of pulses, wheat and wheat products from April 9.
Announcing this at a press briefing here on Friday, general secretary of the Mahasangh, Sudhakar Panda said the Mahasangh had placed its demand before the state government in December last year to withdraw 5 percent value added tax (VAT) on pulses, wheat and wheat products and introduce one percent Entry Tax in its place. But as the government did not agree to our proposal, the Mahasangh had stopped the import of these items on December 9 last year.
“The government, after considering the gravity of the situation, had a discussion with us on the next day and promised to look into the demand within 3-4 months. As there was no decision after the expiry of the deadline, we had convened an emergency meeting on March 18 this year which was attended by the representatives of 190 traders’ associations. As decided in the meeting, Mahasangh in letter to the chief minister, chief secretary, Finance minister, secretaries of Finance and other concerned departments, and all district collectors on March 19 and 20, had informed them to fulfil its demand failing which the Mahasangh would stop the import of these items from April 9”, Panda informed.
Panda also said the Mahasangh, during the Assembly session had urged the government to have a discussion in this regard to which the latter had agreed after the conclusion of the session.
“Though the Assembly session has ended, the government has not made any effort to look in to our demand”, he added.
He said the Mahasangh had told the state government that while it collects Rs 35 crore revenue by imposing five percent VAT on pulses, wheat and wheat products against the actual revenue of Rs 226 crore as there has been rampant smuggling of these edibles to the state to evade VAT, it should replace VAT with one per cent entry tax so that the collections would go up to Rs 50 crore and the market would gain stability.
He also informed that barring Odisha, Assam, Mizoram, Punjab and some parts of Andhra Pradesh where VAT is imposed, 24 states have not imposed VAT on these products.
It may be mentioned that Odisha has a daily requirement of 2500 tonnes of pulses and 3000 tonnes of wheat and wheat products. The state is dependent on import of these edibles as there is no sufficient production to meet its requirement. The domestic production of pulses per annum is around 50,000 tonne against requirement of 8.05 lakh tonne.