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Mumbai wholesalers go on strike against tax

Mumbai, July 15, 2013, (IANS) :
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Wholesale traders in the city have launched a two-day strike to protest against the pending Local Body Tax (LBT) imbroglio, officials said here Monday.

The provocation for the strike is the government failing to fulfill its commitment to set up a high-level committee to examine the LBT issue and make its recommendations.

"Trading across sectors came to a standstill Monday morning with all wholesale markets remaining closed for two days," said Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) President Mohan Gurnani.

LBT, which replaced the traditional octroi in municipalities in the state, is an account-based cess collection for every raw material used or imported into the city by all businesses, traders and manufacturers.

While it was implemented in most parts of Maharashtra from April 1, it is due to be imposed in Mumbai Oct 1.

Last month, as the wholesale and retail trade strike crippled the state, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had intervened to resolve the looming crises.

In a meeting with all traders' bodies, the state government had promised to set up a committee to examine LBT and make necessary recommendations.

"Accepting the government proposal, traders had called off the strike in public interest May 23," Gurnani said.

"It is now over six weeks and there is no movement on the part of the state government. This token strike is intended to serve as a wake-up call before we consider other measures," Gurnani told IANS.

He said the monsoon session of the Maharashtra legislature would start Monday and expressed hope that both the ruling and opposition parties would take up the issue on priority to prevent inconvenience to the masses.

Gurnani said retailers have not joined the strike since monsoon clearance sales are underway. However, he said they would join the strike unless the government acted on LBT immediately.


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