Traders affiliated to the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, who met here on Monday, threatened to go on indefinite strike from April 22 if the Government did not remove the local body tax (LBT).

The Federation represents 750 trade associations in the State.

The Government abolished octroi from April 1 and imposed LBT in the State. While the tax will come into effect in Mumbai from October 1, it has already been implemented in Kolhapur, Sholapur and the Vasai-Virar Municipal areas.

Mohan Gurnani, President, FAM said traders are forced to obtain a registration number and were served with a three-day notice to pay the tax on the monthly sales turnover. He added that the authorities also charge an interest and late fee on delay in remittance.

Threat Factor

“Traders are threatened to fall in line through notices, along with penal action, including two years’ imprisonment if they fail to pay the dues,” he said.

Surendra T. Savai, Executive President, FAM, said the tax, which is levied only in Maharashtra, will push up commodity prices, besides leading to corruption and harassment of traders by Government officials.

“A large number of traders have already started shifting out of Maharashtra to neighbouring States which offer pro-trader policies,” he said.

He added that there were a number of unresolved issues such as value-added tax refunds, seizure of foodgrains, FDI in retail trade and the Shop and Establishment Act, and that the Government has suddenly taken a decision to impose the tax on the trading community without taking the people concerned into confidence.

Earlier, the Federation had appealed to the Government to keep the tax in abeyance as it was in complete variance with the draft proposals submitted by various trading bodies.

suresh.iyengar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on April 8, 2013)
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