Traders from Navi Mumbai seem unsatisfied with the recent amendments in the Local Body Tax (LBT) introduced by the government. Deciding to intensify their remonstration, they have called for an indefinite strike from April 22. They are also contemplating thronging the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporations cess office two days later, to return their LBT licences.
After protests from traders across the state, several changes were introduced to the LBT regulations, but traders say are nothing more than a sop from the government. Kirti Rana, director of Vashi’s Agricultural Produce and Marketing Committee (APMC), and president of Confederation of All India Traders, Maharashtra State told MiD DAY, “We have decided to intensify our agitation.
We are not in favor of LBT, as it would create a lot of complications. There is no kind of simplification (in the regulatory framework), nor has any education been imparted to us about LBT. Traders will be immensely encumbered with all the paperwork and other formalities increasing tremendously.”
Asked about the relief provided by the government, he said, “The chief minister announced that small traders with an annual turnover of Rs 3 lakh need not pay LBT but with the price of everything soaring, there would hardly be any traders with that kind of annual income.”
Speaking of the agitation, he said, “We are planning to go to the cess office in Navi Mumbai on April 24 with black ribbons taped on our mouths and turn in our licences. We are not in favour of paying the LBT at any cost.”
The APMC director said that he has appealed to other markets in the APMC to support the agitation so the government takes notice of it. But when contacted, APMC’s grain director Jayesh Vora said, “We are in support of the protest but we won’t shut down our market. We’re afraid business might be affected.”
Navi Mumbai deputy municipal commissioner (cess) Sudhir Cheke said traders should be receptive to the regulations, which have been simplified for their benefit. “There are several amendments in LBT which were brought in for the benefit of traders. Small traders with a yearly turnover of up to Rs 3 lakh need not pay LBT, whereas earlier, the concession was given to businessmen who earned up to Rs 1 lakh annually.
Moreover, now instead of the 10th of every month, the 20th would be the date for paying LBT. The chief minister announced that if the traders still had an issue, it could be sorted out. It would be preferable if they cooperated with the government, considering that a lot of simplification which has been brought in.”