Kerala traders plan stir on March 30

Kochi, March 16 | Updated: Mar 17 2005, 05:30am hrs
Consumers in Kerala would soon see empty racks in shops as wholesale traders have stopped taking fresh stocks and retailers are expected to follow suit from March 23 in protest against the proposed implementation of value-added tax (Vat). Traders in the state are expected to down shutters for three days beginning March 30.

Traders body, Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti, state president T Nasiruddin told FE that while there is yet to be a clear picture on the new tax system and majority of the states are not implementing them, the state government is forcibily implementing Vat.

He said that neither the trade nor the state government had a clear picture of the new tax regime as all other taxes like entry tax, purchase tax, turnover tax, luxury tax compounding tax, etc continued to stay. This would certainly prove dear to consumers as the traders would be forced to pass the additional burden on to them.

There were nearly 8 lakh traders in the samiti and the agitation would cut supplies. Supply of essential items like rice, sugar, pulses etc would be most affected and the available stock may not last beyond a week.

Wholesalers have stopped taking fresh stock and the samiti had posted its members at various check posts in the state to ensure that no goods came into the state from outside. Steel and cement traders were expected to meet soon to take a decision on joining the agitation.

Samiti Ernakulam district president PM Ibrahim said traders were not against Vat on a national level. However, in the state, it was a fluid situation with none sure of the whole system. He pointed to the implementation of sales tax in Kerala in 1936 when a committee of experts was formed in 1960 which went deep into the matter and implemented the tax regime after several rounds of discussions.