Not prepared to cede ground to ally Congress in wooing traders, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ensured another meeting was held in the presence of its supremo Sharad Pawar between the merchants and the state government yesterday. Members of the Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) termed the conference, headed by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, as ‘satisfactory’ and ‘purposeful’.
Representatives of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association (FRTWA) were also present and put forth their suggestions with regard to the new tariff. Following the meet, FAM is said to have suspended all agitation against LBT for a month.
Assurances had also been offered to a section of retailers by the state government during the parley on Thursday, called at the behest of Congress leaders from Mumbai. After BJP and Shiv Sena announced their wholehearted support to traders, ruling Congress and NCP have done their bit to show solidarity, commented a senior minister. It’s a telling fact that apart from MNS to a certain extent, no other major political player in the state has sided with the consumers.
The meeting saw Mohan Gurnani, president of FAM, explain problems related to LBT. Advocate Deepak Bapat and Chartered Accountant Prakash Mehta further explained these issues on behalf of FAM. The chief minister has decided to form a core committee of about 15 to 20 members under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia, also comprising representatives from the trading community. This panel will submit its findings in a month’s time.
Viren Shah, president of FRTWA, said, “A suggestion was made by our association that all retailers doing business within city limits should not be brought under the scope of LBT. Although we were told that the new tax is here to stay, probability is high that its details would change. At the meeting, it was also decided that in a month’s time, a Mumbai-specific LBT model would be worked out.”