Maharashtra traders plan indefinite strike from April 22

"We have called for an indefinite trade bandh and all wholesale and semi-wholesale markets will remain closed in Maharashtra from April 22 against LBT and LPT," Federation Association of Maharashtra (FAM) President Mohan Gurnani said in Mumbai.

The Maharashtra government had imposed LBT in lieu of Octroi from April 1 this year across the state and from October 1 in Mumbai city following which there is a strong resentment against it amongst the trading community in the state.

The LBT came into effect from April 1 in Kolhapur, Sholapur, Vasai-Virar municipal areas. Traders in these areas are forced to get registration numbers and were served with the three-day notice to pay LBT on monthly turnover of the sales of goods in local area along with interest and late fee. Also, the traders were threatened with penal action including two years imprisonment if they fail to pay the dues, Gurnani said.

Traders across the state are opposing the present form of LBT which is totally at variance with the draft submitted by the FAM and other chambers of commerce. It has appealed the state government to keep the implementation of LBT in abeyance till further discussion with the trading community to arrive at a consensus.

"The traders are always ready to pay legitimate taxes but we do not want additional taxation departments. We demand ceasing of LBT Act, abolish Octroi and adopt Gujarat taxation model," Gurnani said.

The Gujarat government had increased VAT from 4 per cent to 5 per cent and abolished the Octroi. Against this, the Maharashtra government had increased VAT from 4 per cent to 5 per cent and still continued with Octroi. There is no LBT in India except in Maharashtra, he said.

Gurnani said "the Maharashtra government has collected a huge amount of around Rs 60,000 crore through VAT and there is no need to enact a new law of LBT to collect further revenue for the development of local areas and further burden the consumers abruptly".

As for LPT, the state government recently modified the Bombay Gram Panchayat Act to enable Gram panchayats to levy tax on goods entering in its area. This tax, known as local panchayat tax will be levied by municipal corporations.

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