APMC market shuts to protest local body tax

The otherwise bustling Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi wore a deserted look yesterday, as masala and grain traders decided to shut business to protest the implementation of Local Body Tax (LBT), which came into force yesterday.

APMC shops
Shops in Vashi’s APMC market remained shut yesterday. Fruit and vegetable traders were kept out of the strike

LBT from 0-7 per cent will be implemented on all goods imported within the city limit for consumption, use or sale. Traders strongly feel that there is no need for the government to levy this tax considering that they are already paying Value Added Tax (VAT) and Service Tax. LBT has to be paid by traders in all municipal corporations of Maharashtra instead of octroi and cess.

APMC’s masala and grain market sees an average of 1,000 trucks filled with goods loaded and unloaded everyday. However, yesterday the busy market, which is bustling with activities all through the day, saw hardly any movement.

The percentage of LBT which is required to be paid by these traders would vary from 0-7 per cent on different commodities. Kirti Rana, director of Mumbai APMC said that when the government had initially decided to raise VAT from 4-5 per cent traders were told that octroi would be waived off. 

“However nothing like that has happened, instead LBT has been levied. This will directly burn a hole in the common man’s pocket, as the prices of essential commodities will automatically shoot up.”

Traders were upset that despite LBT being applicable from April 1, they were not informed how much would be charged for each commodity till yesterday morning. “APMC is a major distribution centre for various commodities and with such taxes being applied the future generation would hesitate to do any form of business,” added Rana, suggesting that it would be better that the government keep a single tax collection window.

Traders even feel that because of this paper work will increase for them and instead of concentrating on business they would have to check whether or not all their papers are in place. This could even prompt traders to indulge in corrupt practices. Rana said that they are yet to decide on how to continue the protest. If required, he added, they would even call for a jail bharo andolan. Markets having perishable commodities like fruit, vegetables, onions and potatoes were kept out of this protest.

“We do not intend to inconvenience the public and waste daily commodities. The shelf life of such things like fruit and vegetables is short and therefore it’s difficult to get traders dealing in them to participate in this protest,” concluded Rana. Jayant Kumar Banthia, chief secretary, government of Maharashtra opined that the traders should not have gone on a protest by shutting business at the market, as it caused inconvenience to many. 

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