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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Disgruntled over the State government’s ‘failure’ to exempt value added tax (VAT) from essential commodities, the traders’ association here has decided to stop import of pulses, wheat and wheat products from neighbouring States from April 1.

The traders’ body argued that though nine months have been passed since it assured to take a call on the VAT, the State government has not taken any concrete step.

“Only Odisha is imposing such tax and there is no such tax in the rest 29 states of the country. During import, we generally bear transport cost of nearly 5 to 7%. In addition to that 5% VAT is very unbearable for us. The irony is that the State government is not getting the tax completely, levied on the essential commodities. We will stop importing the products effective April 1,” Odisha Byabasayi Mahasangha general secretary Sudhakar Panda said.

“Why the government is so much time to take a decision in this regard?” asked he.

The State government on the other hand stated that it wanted a uniform VAT on pulses across the States.

“We feel that there should be a uniform VAT rate on pulses, wheat and wheat products for all states. The Centre is mulling a unified tax structure across the country. The Union Finance minister will convene a meeting in this regard in New Delhi tomorrow. A meeting with traders’ associations has also been scheduled. I hope a consencus will come out for the larger interest of the State,” Food and Civil Supplies minister Sanjay Dasburma said.

"VAT rate needs to be uniform across the country for the convenience of consumers and traders," he added.

In April last year, traders had resorted to a week-long stir and had stopped imports of wheat, wheat products and pulses over non-fulfilment of their demand for withdrawal of VAT on these food products.

But, the finance department had ruled out a VAT waiver, citing such a decision cannot be taken unilaterally by the state government.

Odisha was levying VAT at the rate of five per cent on these commodities as per the recommendations of the empowered committee.

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