Cloth merchants to shut shops tomorrow

Berhampur: The All Odisha Textile Cloth Merchant Association (AOTCMA) today threatened to shut all textile outlets in the state tomorrow in protest against the state government`s decision to impose 5 per cent VAT on textile and sugar.

Traders also threatened to stop importing essential commodities from neighbouring states from March 31 protesting the government decision. The government has decided to impose the tax from April 1.

"We had observed a two-day bandh in June last in protest against imposition of VAT at 4 per cent. Due to our agitation the government rolled back the decision and assured the tax would not be imposed on textile, when other states will not do so," said president of the AOTCMA Rabi Mohapatra here.

"When no other states except Andhra Pradesh imposed VAT on textile, why state government is ready to impose it at 5 percent," he asked.

In protest, textile traders across the state will stage silent procession and submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealing to reconsider the decision, said P Kameswar Rao, another official of the association.

Around five lakh people are engaged in wholesale and retail textile business in the state, while they have around 2500 different organisations, Mohapatra claimed.

Meanwhile, Odisha Byabasayee Mahasangha (OBM) also threatened to stop import of essential commodities from other states protesting on the government decision.

The actual tax will be increased to six and seven per cent on sugar and textile respectively with imposition of 5 percent VAT, president, Ganjam Chamber of Commerce (GCC) Ch Rabindra Kumar said.

The government has been collecting 2 and one per cent as entry tax on textile items and sugar respectively. While the Center has announced to implement GST, a uniform tax across the country, the state should reconsider and rollback their decision, Rabindra Kumar said.