Chemists Have A Sinking Feeling: Down Shutters To Protest VAT

New Delhi, March 25: | Updated: Mar 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
Chemists and druggists across the country on Tuesday downed their shutters to protest the introduction of value added tax (VAT) from April 1, leaving patients high and dry.

Barring a few emergency medical stores, pharmacies remained closed in response to the nation-wide bandh called by the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.

All states except Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh have geared up to implement the VAT following the Centres nod for the requisite legislation. In Lucknow, UP Medicine and drug association said the strike was near-total. It warned of an indefinite shutdown from April 1 if the government did not rescind its order on implementing VAT.

Traders in the national Capital will meet on Wednesday to work out their strategy even as Bharat Udyog Vyapar Mandal has given a call for an all India trade bandh on March 31.

Putting medicines under the slab of 12.5 per cent would lead to sharp increase in their prices which would hit the common man, general secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders, Praveen Khandelwal said here. He demanded withdrawal of levies such as octroi, entry tax, cess and surcharge before the introduction of VAT.

In Mumbai, Maharashtra chief minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the state government would introduce the Vat regime from April 1, subject to changes based on the feedback and suggestions from the industry.