Auction of agricultural commodities remained suspended at all agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) in Saurashtra for the fourth day on Tuesday as commission agents and traders continued their protest to the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Major APMCs like Gondal, Rajkot, Halvad, Morbi etc remained deserted on Tuesday as the commission agents and traders grappled with the new indirect tax regime. Similar situation was reported from around two dozen other APMCs in Saurashtra region. Traders and commission agents of Rajkot held a meeting during the day and invited tax experts to explain ways to comply with the new tax system. However, the meeting remained inconclusive on when the business would resume.
“While the tax experts explained the GST process at the meeting, traders and commission agents were of the view that being farmers’ bodies, APMCs should be exempted from the GST. They resolved to make a representation to the state government while continuing their strike indefinitely,” said Suresh Chandarana, a trader and a director of Rajkot APMC. In fact, traders in Rajkot, Morbi, Halvad, Wankaner and Jetpur had gone on indefinite strike on June 30 against the GST. Other APMCs like Gondal, Junagadh, Amreli joined the strike from July 1.
“Almost none of traders and commission agents here have got their GST numbers. Therefore, it is likely that it will take some time before auction of commodities resumes,” said an officer at Amreli APMC. Jayanti Dhol, chairman of Gondal APMC, said that they had been trying to persuade traders and commission agents to shift to the new tax regime. “We have arranged meetings with tax experts. But the issue which is bothering them immediately is the format of bills. The agents and traders are finalising formats of their invoices and we expect auction to resume in couple of days,” said Dhol.
In APMCs across Gujarat, commission agents purchase agricultural commodities from farmers and later sell them to traders. While the new tax regime does not levy any tax on the sale of agricultural commodities by farmers at APMC, the traders will have to pay GST to commission agents.