Maha traders' strike against LBT to be intensified, says FAM

"We will intensify our strike as more retail traders are expected to join in the strike which has already entered its 24th day and loss of business has crossed Rs 1,00,000 crore mark," FAM chairman Mohan Gurnani said.

LBT Strike
Fiery issue: A candle-light vigil to protest LBT at Marine Drive. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Yesterday's meeting with Chief Secretary J K Banthia was unproductive, he added.

There would be a jail-bharo agitation tomorrow, Gurnani said, adding that Chief Secretary had threatened to impose Essential Services Maintenance Act and over 1,000 traders in Mumbai and Pune were arrested over the last two days.

"We expect 100 percent trade strike as retailers who withdrew strike due to festive season last week are expected to join the wholesalers," he said.

LBT Strike
Traders earlier protesting in a rally against local body tax near the JJ Hospital. Pic/Abhinav Kocharekar

Government brought in LBT in lieu of octroi at various cities in the state on April 1 (it would be introduced in Mumbai from October 1). However, the traders are opposing it tooth and nail as they fear increase in tax burden and harassment.

Gurnani said traders would neither pay the new tax, nor would they register for LBT.

Traders should pay only 5 percent VAT till LBT was scrapped, he said.

Asked about MNS leader Raj Thackeray's opposition to continuance of strike, Gurnani said the traders did not want the people to suffer, but they had to take the extreme step because of the insensitive approach of the government.

He also said that contrary to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's announcement that the committee to discuss the issue would comprise five representatives each of traders and government, the present committee has 15 officials and nobody from the trading community.

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