Even as the grain and spices market at Vashi’s APMC continued with its indefinite protest against local body tax (LBT) yesterday, it has been business as usual for traders of the vegetable and fruit markets.
Traders of onion, potato and fruit markets at APMC said that considering they deal in perishable items, it was difficult for them to join the protest even though they are strongly against LBT.
According to the government notification issued recently, LBT is not applicable on commodities like fresh vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and fresh fruits. Sanjay Pansare, director of the APMC fruit market, said that they are still required to file returns for 0% tax.
“Anyway there is 0% LBT on commodities of our market, then why are they making it mandatory for us to register? There are too many different kinds of licences that are being implemented, and another one will just add to our troubles.” Ashok Walunj, director of the onion, potato market, said that they have been contemplating on joining the strike but nothing has been finalised yet.
“Commodities like onions and potatoes cannot be preserved for a long time. Since they are essential commodities we did not want to shut the market, as it would cause trouble for customers. But then there have been talks about joining the protest if the government does not relent,” Walunj said.
Fruit market director Pansare added that business has been hit badly because of the strike. “There are many customers who are under the impression that our market is also shut and hence have not been coming to make purchases. As far as retailers are concerned, they have not been coming ahead to make any bulk purchase, as a result of which our business is suffering,” Pansare said. Approximately 700 trucks are waiting on the APMC premises. They have a variety of commodities from rice to dal and pulses which are waiting to be unloaded.
For the farmers
Asked why the vegetable and fruits market did not join the strike, Pansare said that the farmers have already been facing a lot of difficulty as production cost of fruits like mangoes has gone up drastically this year. “The production of fruits like mangoes was low this year and if we also go on strike then the farmers would suffer even more. Our community is against LBT but we cannot trouble the farmers and others on account of the strike.”
Mango trade in loss
Mango traders have been incurring heavy losses on account of the poor climatic conditions. In fact, they have been receiving Rs 200 less for every box sold as compared to last year. A box of premium quality mangoes, which last year sold for Rs 2,000, is priced at Rs 1,800 this year, while inferior quality boxes, which were known to sell at Rs 800, are being sold at Rs 600. Presently, other than mangoes, the other fruits that have been entering the market include orange, watermelon and muskmelon, and imported apples from Washington, New Zealand and Chile.
Traders await SC verdict
City traders are eagerly looking forward to the Supreme Court verdict on local body tax (LBT), which has been filed by trade unions. The verdict is to come out on May 10. Kirti Rana, director of Vashi APMC, said, “The strike has intensified and spread to a lot many states of the country. We are now looking forward to the SC verdict and are hoping for the best.”