Maharashtra traders to protest tax

Mumbai, May 15 (IANS) The trading community protesting the proposed Local Body Tax (LBT) Wednesday announced a jail bharo agitation all over Maharashtra from Thursday if their demands were not met.

“We do not want LBT, so the question of drawing up a list of grievances as demanded by the government does not arise,” Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) president Mohan Gurnani said Wednesday.

The jail bharo (fill jails) move came after the state government Monday asked the traders to draw up their list of grievances against LBT and warned them of invoking the stringent Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA), if they did not call off the ongoing agitation.

Gurnani said that “either the LBT or ther chief minister would have to go. We shall vote out the chief minister”.

Around 8,000 traders will take part in the jail bharo agitation at Azad Maidan in south Mumbai.

Another 25,000 traders in eight districts of the state – Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Aurangabad, Jalgaon and Nagpur – will also join the agitation in their cities.

“Traders will ensure (Chief Minister Prithviraj) Chavan’s removal if he continues to be adamant on the LBT. He has misled the people by not appointing a single member from the traders association on the committee to contemplate on the contentious issues orbiting around LBT,” Gurnani said.

Dwelling on the warning issued by both Maharashta Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Shiv Sena (SS) asking the traders not to inconvenience the commoners in their battle against the state governemnt, Gurnani said that he would meet both MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and explain the traders’ stand on LBT.

However, the stalemate has started hitting consumers with shortages of various household goods, grocery, fresh fruits and vegetables.

The ongoing summer marriage season has been particularly hit hard and caterers have hiked their rates as they have to source their requirements from other cities.

LBT, which replaced the traditional octroi in the various municipalities in the state, is an account-based cess collection for every raw material used or imported into the city limits by all businesses, traders and manufacturers.

While it has already been implemented in most parts of Maharashtra from April 1, it is due to be imposed in Mumbai from Oct 1.

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