There seems to be no end to the woes of consumers. With talks between the state government and traders failing Monday,the strike over local body tax (LBT) continues.
As the traders withdrew complaining chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia failed to reiterate a commitment made by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to looked into the demands raised by them,the government warned of action.
The state,however,agreed to consider doing away with the nominal fee municipal corporations collect to escort goods.
We have told them (traders) to give us demands in writing. Till the issue is finalised,they should withdraw the strike. Otherwise the state will have to initiate action against them.
Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act can be invoked against the traders and their licences cancelled under Mumbai Shops and Establishment Act.
Mohan Gurnani of Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) said while Chavan promised a Banthia-headed 15-member committee formed to discuss issues raised by traders and recommend amendments to LBT,would include 5-7 traders,it did not have even one as per a government resolution dated May 10.
We are ready to pay taxes and in a transparent manner. But we demand adequate representation on the high-level committee. The present committee has only government officials, he said.
While traders have agreed to account-based taxation,they want the assessment to be done by the sales tax office,not municipal corporations. They argue BMC does not have the technical know-how to assess tax values.
It has been unanimously decided that since the government does not want to listen to us and wants to suppress the voice of traders,the agitation against LBT and octroi will become more aggressive. All members of associations of Mumbai and Maharashtra are requested to keep protesting, said Pradeep Shah of FAM.
Meanwhile,retailers suffering huge losses called off their strike Sunday but some of them are likely to resume it Wednesday.
Gurnani said while 30,000 wholesalers were on strike in Mumbai,70,000 retailers were expected to resume strike.
However,Viren Shah of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association said they would continue protesting but not resume strike.