Kejri takes side of traders hit by online stores, plays anti-FDI card

The Aam Aadmi Party on Monday took its campaign to the busy market of Nehru Place with party chief Arvind Kejriwal promising a crackdown on alleged illegal trade practices of online shopping sites to woo traders ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls.

Kejriwal said he will not allow foreign direct investment in retail and will stop routine VAT (value added tax) raids among, other market reforms.

“We are not against online sites. But if an item bought for Rs 20 is sold for Rs 18, it means that some scam is going on somewhere,” Kejriwal said. He assured traders that his party will order a probe if voted to power in Delhi.

Speaking from the podium set up for the former chief minister, local trade association leaders had earlier alleged that e-commerce sites are resorting to “unethical” trade practices, including tax evasion. “All the unaccounted money is black money,” said Swarn Singh, joint secretary of All Delhi Computer Traders, while backing AAP’s claim of putting a check on corruption.

The trade leaders talked about their problems such as having to pay protection money, lack of parking facilities, difficult access to emergency facilities like fire brigade, and high VAT rates.

“Within five years, Delhi will have the least VAT on all items,” Kejriwal said, arguing that the move will contain price rise, improve tax compliance and generate more revenue for the government.

Playing to the gallery, he said that if his party forms the government, it will shut down the routine VAT raids, which allegedly jumped to the standard 200-mark when he quit as the chief minister.

“When I was the chief minister, people from trade associations used to visit me. I told them that nobody will create difficulties for their businesses,” Kejriwal said.

“I told them that we will make the VAT department sit home and not go out on unnecessary raids. But I also want tax. I told them to set their own targets.

We want this much from Nehru Place and this much from the other market,” Kejriwal said, claiming that VAT collection had gone up during his brief stay in power.

The AAP government, if re-elected, will continue with its decision of not allowing Foreign Direct Investment in multi-brand retail in Delhi.

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