'As traders, should we concentrate on work or keep books of accounts?'
Kirti Rana, a popular name in the trading community of Navi Mumbai, is the director of Vashi's Agricultural Produce and Market Committee (APMC). He is also the president of the confederation of All India Traders Maharashtra State, besides being member of various other associations. Speaking to Richa Pinto, he said that the Local Body Tax (LBT) has come like an additional burden on traders, and is playing on his mind continuously. Excerpts from the conversation:
Traders from the APMC market protested against LBT, which has been implemented by the government from the current financial year. The reason?
About 0-7 per cent tax is being implemented on all goods imported within the city limit for consumption, use or sale. We have been strongly protesting against it, more so because with this new form of tax we would be required to maintain numerous registers documenting how much of tax is to be paid on each product. Our main concern is that the tax, which the government will levy upon the products, will automatically increase its price and finally the burden of it would be borne by the public.
LBT has come in place of Octroi and therefore traders would not have to bother to pay the latter. Wouldn’t this benefit traders?
The octroi was earlier paid by truck drivers when they brought the goods into the market and they produced the receipts to us. Because of this we never felt the burden of it. Now with there being different standards of LBT for different products the question again would come up about the amount of effort the trader would be putting in to pay the tax. As traders, should we concentrate on work or keep books of accounts?
But the government would require to collect taxes from traders so why do you think it’s completely unjustified?
The introduction of LBT for us meant keeping additional books of accounts, bringing in computers, calling for consultants and giving them their fees etc. However this is just the beginning, in case we make any mistakes in our records, the burden would increase. We definitely can’t afford to give these charges from our own pockets and would take it from the consumer. At the end of the day the person suffering is the customer. This could in turn just weaken the trust of the consumer in Maharashtra government.
LBT has been implemented only in Maharashtra state. What do you think about it?
It is really disheartening for traders that the Maharashtra government has decided to implement LBT. The progress of traders could be hampered majorly because of it. If this continues I am afraid that the new generation may become a slave to FDI. Besides, a lot of traders could also think of shifting their business to those states where such taxes do not exist at all.
Do you mean there should be a simpler process?
Yes, exactly. There is nosimplification at any level. We as traders are being harassed by so many taxes. In fact, now the Goods and Service tax is also being introduced by thegovernment. Whatever we earn will go in paying taxes, so then what’s the point? Traders who are collecting the tax are the ones who are not getting rewards in any way or form.
But the new generation is well-versed with keeping books of accounts or even the newer technologies, so this should not be a problem for them.
The new generation would think twice before entering into any trade if this scene continues. I mean, who wants to be trapped into paying numerous taxes to the government? This would lead them to take up some other job and trade would be left. This could hamper the progress of the country to a very great extent.
What is your future course of action?
We had kept the spices market shut on April 1 and then again from April 4-6. We are hoping that government will take notice of it and relieve us from this tax in some way at least. Besides, we are making additional efforts from our side to explain to the government the problems we are going to face because of the imposition of this tax.