Traders’ body calls off stir on VAT exemption

Bhubaneswar: The Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA), which was on strike over their demand of exemption of VAT on pulses, wheat and wheat products, today called off their five-day stir after the State government decided to form a committee to look into the matter.

The 7-member panel will comprise of four government officials and three from the traders’ body. It will submit its report on the issue to the government within three months. The government will then decide the future course of action after going through the report, sources said.

As negotiations with the State government yielded no fruitful results, FAOTA had stopped importing pulses, wheat and wheat products since April 9 demanding waiver of 5% value-added tax and imposition of 1% entry tax.

The government had turned down the traders’ demand citing that the matter of imposition of entry tax on agricultural products is pending before the Supreme Court.

Two days ago, Finance minister Pradip Amat had said constitutional validity of the entry tax has been challenged and the case is pending before the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court and the State has filed an affidavit to maintain status-quo. So, entry tax cannot be levied on dal and pulses at this stage.

However, the federation refused to buy the argument and continued the strike. Apprehending trouble, Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department decided to constitute a State-level committee to procure pulses in order to meet the scarcity arising out of the ongoing strike.