Traders call statewide strike from April 22

LBT: Shops not joining stir may get police protection.

Written by Express News Service | Published:April 13, 2013 1:50 am

Adopting a yo-yo attitude towards the local body tax (LBT),Pune traders’ association has decided to call an indefinite statewide strike from April 22 to oppose implementation of LBT.

This,despite Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s announcement on raising the limit of business for registration under LBT to keep small shopkeepers outside the purview of the tax regime.

Meanwhile,the administration is considering to extend police protection to shops that stay away from the strike.

“All traders across the state have come together against LBT and will be going on an indefinite strike from April 22,while stopping purchase of goods from April 15,” said Popatlal Oswal,president of association,after the rally of traders from the state.

Earlier,the traders’ association had announced a strike from April 15,but have now postponed it to April 22.

He claimed that the strike called by the association in the city had been successful and it enabled traders from other cities to understand the provisions of LBT.

“Traders across the city are facing problems due to the LBT. Its implementation was unanimously opposed at our rally,” Oswal said.

Association member Fatechand Ranka claimed that the chief minister was misleading traders and citizens on implementation of LBT.

“The chief minister announced on Thursday that the limit of business for LBT registration would be raised from the existing limit of Rs 1 lakh. However,he did not specify the raised limit,” he said,adding that the traders were ready to hold discussions with the government,provided they are not doled out mere assurances.

According to Ranka,the traders cannot be threatened by imposing Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) during strike. “We have decided not to purchase goods from April 15,so that there will be no stock by April 22 and thus ESMA would have no impact. If for that,the state government initiates action against the traders,we will surrender our licenses and shop keys to the authorities,” he added.

Meanwhile,the administration has decided to involve police in ensuring that shops not participating in the strike get police protection. “There was a discussion with the police on providing protection to shops that don’t participate in the strike,” said municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak.

The state government has taken into consideration most of the demands made by the traders,he said,adding,“The demands have been changing every day. The association is misleading the small traders. The LBT is simplified tax system compared to the earlier octroi system,and is being implemented throughout the state.”

Sources within the government said the traders were informed on the government’s plans to dilute the provisions of LBT. “The limit is being raised to keep shops with lesser business out of LBT tax ambit. Also,the penalty amount for defaulters is likely to be reduced and most of the powers for its effective implementation will only be with the municipal chief and not with the lower officials,” the government official said.

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