Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 30:
While the high-level meeting between the Odisha government and representatives of Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA) held this afternoon failed to take a decision on the latter’s demand seeking exemption of value added tax (VAT) on essential commodities, the traders’ body remained rigid in its decision to stop import of the commodities from April 1.
“It’s not that we are rigid or adamant. Our demand is the demand of the four crore population of the state. It’s the demand for raising the revenue earnings of the state government. It’s the demand for doing business with pride and self-esteem. Out 29 states in the country, 24 levy no taxes on these items. Consumers of the state have been affected in this way ever since the implementation of the faulty taxation regime. During the March 26 discussions, the government had agreed to reduce VAT from the existing 5% to 1%. The government had agreed to discuss on wheat and wheat products in today’s meeting. But strangely enough, the government today changed its view completely and resorted to dilly dallying tactics. This is unacceptable to us,” said Sudhakar Panda, secretary of Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA).
Finance Minister Pradip Amat and Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Das Burma have appealed to the traders to desist from their decision to stop the import of essential commodities. The Ministers said the next round of discussions on the issue will take place after the ongoing Assembly session.
The FAOTA had 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.
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.