Odisha traders call off stir after ‘written’ govt assurance

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 10:

The All Odisha Traders’ Association (AOTA) withdrew from their self imposed ban on import of pulses, wheat and wheat products from other states in protest against the 5% value added tax (VAT) imposed on these items by the state government today following a written assurance from the state government to look into their demand. The traders had stopped the import yesterday.

wheat laden trucks

Earlier in the day, additional chief secretary Finance U N Behera, office bearers of the AOTA and officials of the Food Supplies and Commercial Tax departments held a meeting to find a solution to the issue.

While asking the traders to withdraw from their stir, the government assured them that it would look into the matter in all seriousness and sort it out within three months during preparation of tax slabs for GST, which will be introduced in three months time.

The traders’ body had insisted on a written assurance from the government on the matter.

The traders’ body had proposed imposition of 1% entry tax at check gates and exempt them from paying 5% VAT on pulses, wheat and wheat products which had led to a fall in revenue collection for the government due to black marketing by unscrupulous traders at the cost of genuine traders of the state and high prices of these items. The traders had said that these items are exempted from VAT in 23 states in the country.

The AOTA, which had gone for a self imposed indefinite ban on import of these products yesterday had announced its ultimatum to the state government on November 23.

The state consumes about 67,000 metric tonnes (MTs) of pulses and 12,000 MTs of wheat products every month. A large chunk of the consumption is imported from other states.

Existing flour mills of the state cater to only 26% of the wheat and wheat products demand in the state, according to the traders’ body.

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