VAT row ends; traders’ body agrees to withdraw strike

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Bhubaneswar: The Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Associations (FAOTA) on Saturday agreed to call of its strike against the 5% ‘additional’ Value Addition Tax (VAT) being levied by the Odisha government on essential commodities.

This was informed by Finance Minister Pradeep Amat after a meeting with the FAOTA members and other officials at the Secretariat this evening.

“After the Budget Session which ends on May 26, we will sit with its (FAOTA) members and discuss the matter in details. It has agreed to withdraw the ongoing strike from tomorrow,” Amat stated.

Meanwhile, the traders’ body has said it will officially announce the withdrawal of the strike tomorrow.

“We will officially announce regarding our stand on strike after the general body meeting tomorrow,” said Sudhakar Panda, general secretary, FAOTA.

Protesting against five per cent VAT imposed on pulses, wheat and wheat products by the State government, the traders had stopped import of essential commodities including pulses, edible oil, sugar and rice.

They argued that as many as 25 states have exempted VAT on pulses, wheat and wheat products, while the Odisha government is levying the tax.

Last year too, the traders had resorted to five-day strike before calling it off with the government forming a committee to examine their demand to lift VAT.

They have been demanding one per cent VAT slab for pulses, wheat and wheat products. This can fetch the state government assured revenue of Rs 60 crore.

Of its consumption of 0.9 million tonne of pulses, Odisha imports an overwhelming majority as it produces only 0.12 million tonne. The turnover of pulses trade is estimated at Rs 6800 crore. Similarly, the State’s wheat consumption is 1.2 million tonne and a bulk of it is met through imports.

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