Odisha traders stop importing pulses, wheat from other states

Bhubaneswar: All Odisha Traders’ Association (AOTA) on Tuesday stopped import of pulses, wheat and wheat products from other states as part of their demand to withdraw 5 per cent value added tax (VAT) on such products by Odisha government.

“About 2,000 wholesale dealers under AOTA have stopped importing pulses, wheat and wheat products from others demanding withdrawal of 5 per cent VAT,” said AOTA secretary Sudhakar panda.

The traders have been demanding introduction of a unitary tax system on food products in the state instead of the 5 per cent VAT levied on these items in the state which are exempted in 23 states in the country, Panda said.

The association also claimed that the state was losing huge tax as many unscrupulous traders used to get them (pulses and wheat products) from the states where there was no VAT.

The traders’ body said it had on several occasions made representations to the government urging it to do away with the VAT on pulses and food grains like other states.

However, the demand was not fulfilled by the state government, Panda said, adding that they would continue the agitation for an indefinite period.

While the state requires about 67,000 metric tonne (MT) of pulses and 12,000 MT of wheat products every month, 80 per cent of them are imported from other states.

“We will try to resolve the issue after discussing the matter with traders. Reducing or hiking of VAT requires the approval of the Finance department as well as the cabinet.

This cannot be done within a day two. We will sort out the problem after holding discussions with them. Efforts are being made for a solution,” Secretary, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Madhusudan Padhi said.