Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 11:
Finance Minister Pradip Amat today made it clear that the proposal of the Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA) for introduction of one percent entry tax in lieu of the five percent value added tax (VAT) on pulses, wheat and wheat products is not possible since the matter of imposition of entry tax on agricultural products is pending before the Supreme Court.
The Minister however, said that he had written a letter to the chairman of the empowered committee of finance ministers to call a meeting of the committee for introduction of unitary tax on pulses, wheat, wheat products and other agricultural products.
Amat appealed to the traders’ body to withdraw from their agitation in the greater interest of the consumers in the state.
On the other hand, the indefinite strike by FAOTA to press its demand for waiver of five percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on these products entered its third day today. With the federation having stopped import of pulses, wheat and wheat products from outside states as part of the strike, a gradual shortage of these products is being felt in the market.
“Our steering committee with representatives from all the 30 districts in attendance will meet at 10.30 AM tomorrow and take a decision on the future course of our agitation. The decision will be taken after taking into consideration the attitude of the government and the interest of the consumers,” said Sudhakar Panda, general secretary, FAOTA.
It is to be noted that the state government has decided to procure 10,000 tonnes of pulses from the open market to meet the demand on account of the traders’ strike.
Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare secretary MS Padhi had said on Friday that the state government, through the Civil Supplies Corporation, will procure 10,000 tonnes of pulses from other states to ensure that the consumers did not face trouble.
Padhi informed that the pulses consignment will be received within 15 days adding that the government will float a tender for the supply of 10,000 tonnes of different varieties of pulses.
Since this is for the first time the government is going to procure pulses, it would take a little time, Padhi said adding that consumers can get the commodity from PDS outlets across the state.
He said that the government was forced to take this decision as the traders’ association refused to budge from their demand for doing away with 5% VAT on pulses, wheat and wheat products.
The FAOTA had yesterday welcomed the government’s efforts to maintain supply chain, but had expressed unhappiness over the manner in which the state government had decided to procure the commodities.