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Striking traders say they won't pay local body tax, VAT
May, 20th 2013

Wholesalers and several small retail stores breaking away from the ongoing stir against local body tax (LBT) hasn't deterred the Federation of Traders Association from continuing with the agitation. Traders said the strike would continue until the government agreed to all their demands and even announced they wouldn't be making either LBT or value added tax (VAT) payments to the government, the deadline for which is Monday, May 20.

The traders' defiance was, however, laced with hope of a breakthrough on Monday when the state chief secretary would discuss their demands.

Federation president Popatlal Ostwal said, "The agitation of traders against LBT is going on since last month. The state government is delaying its decision on LBT. Despite repeated discussions, the government has not reached a solution. We are disappointed with the government's attitude. The traders have now decided that they will not make LBT and VAT payments." He described the delay as "unnecessary" and said it was not only hampering business but also causing a lot of hardship to citizens.

Ostwal said they had resolved that the agitation will continue till the government issued an assurance in writing addressing their demands. He hoped for a breakthrough on Monday.

The agitation meetings continued on Saturday in Pune camp area. A public meeting has been organized at the New English school Ramanbaug ground in Narayan Peth on Sunday to create awareness among people on LBT and its implications.

The Pimpri-Chinchwad unit of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) appealed to traders in Pimpri-Chinchwad to withdraw their strike at the earliest and open their shops. The NCP members have warned that they would forcibly open shops, if shopkeepers failed to do so by noon on Monday.

Addressing a news conference Yogesh Behl, president of NCP's Pimpri-Chinchwad unit said, "Common citizens are facing hardships due to the strike. They are purchasing essential goods at higher rates from the few shops that are open. In fact, the traders will be recovering the LBT from customers only, hence, they should not have problems in paying the tax. They only need to keep a record of the transactions."

He alleged that the traders' organizations were putting pressure on small traders to close shops by threatening them with a fine of Rs 20,000 per day if they kept the shops open. "We will not tolerate the bullying tactics of such organizations. The NCP is ready to help the traders in the fight with the state government for their demands but first they need to withdraw the strike," he said.

Grocery, electronics,garment, hardware, stationery and other shops are closed in the city.

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