Traders, Opp fume as State delays VAT waiver on pulses

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has paid little heed to the Central government’s advice to exempt pulses from VAT and other local taxes, inviting sharp criticism from Opposition parties and traders’ association.

“Even though three days have already passed since the Centre appealed to the States to exempt pulses from VAT and other taxes in a meeting chaired by Union Food minister on May 21, the State government has not taken it seriously. We demand the State should waive VAT and stabilise the price of pulses at the earliest,” Prithivraj Harichandan, BJP general secretary, said.

Traders, on the other hand, have criticized the delay in formulation of a policy on pulses by the State government. They have threatened to launch an agitation if government fails to exempt tax on dal items by May 26.

“If this six per cent tax is waived, the price of pulses would come down by Rs 8 to 10 per KG . If the government fails to take any action on exemption of tax by May 26, we may take any dire action,” thundered Sudhakar Panda, Traders’ Association president.

The BJD, however, said the government will take measures only after receiving the Centre’s decision in writing.

“We are yet to receive written communication from the Centre. Appropriate action will be taken on receiving Centre’s reply,” BJD spokesperson Pratap Jena said.

According to sources, Urad dal is currently being sold at Rs 135 while moong is available at around Rs 90 in market. In a bid to check rising food prices, the Centre had urged state governments to exempt pulses from VAT and other local taxes that can bring down prices by 5-7%. Further, it had suggested to states to impose stock limits on pulses, sugar and edible oils on a rational basis—depending on whether a state is a producer or a consumer of the goods—to check hoarding by traders and middlemen.

The decisions were taken on May 21 at a meeting of State ministers and officials with Union Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.

Notably, the State government has imposed 5 per cent VAT and one per cent local tax on pulses.

The Centre had earlier sought States’ proposal to supply the essential food items according to which Odisha had planned to bring 5,000 tonnes of dal from the Centre. The State is yet to execute its decision.