Pune: From the day it was announced that Local Body Tax (LBT) would be replacing Octroi in municipal corporations, traders in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad have been opposing it.The traders’ community of Pune has been at the forefront in opposing LBT.
They have pressured the state government enough, to cause chief minister Prithviraj Chavan himself to look into the issue.
It has been found that LBT collection in the state is low compared to Octroi. This has led to several raids of shops in the city limits.
On April 1, 2013, when the state government abolished Octroi in both Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and replaced it with LBT.
Even before the state government implemented LBT, the traders’ community had started agitating against the new tax and traders under the umbrella of Federation of Traders Associations of Pune (FTAP) went on strike from April 1 which lasted for nearly for a week.
Later, the traders’ associations, in both Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad, went on strike in May claiming that LBT was stringent and would harass traders.
The strike went on for 13 days and finally the state state government intervened and directed civic authorities to not inspect any trader without prior permission of the state government. The strike was adjourned.
After the LBT collection was started, the officials of the LBT cell of PMC complained that many of the traders who were paying octroi did not register with PMC to pay LBT as a result of which revenue collection of LBT had gone down compared to octroi collection.
The civic administration in the month of November 2013, wrote a letter to the state government seeking permission to carry out raids against the shop owners who were not paying LBT.
After getting approval from the state government, the LBT cell of PMC started carrying out raids on various shops from November which helped in increasing LBT collection.
Meeting with CM fails to arrive at decision on LBT:
It was anticipated that a decision on the Local Body Tax (LBT) would soon be taken during Chief Minister (CM) Prithviraj Chavan’s meeting with the mayors and municipal commissioners of various corporations across the state. Pune mayor Chanchala Kodre and Pune Muncipal Corporation (PMC) commissioner Vikas Deshmukh had represented the Pune region. The representatives of the traders communities from the state were also present for the meeting. The representatives from each corporation across the state was given a chance to give their suggestions. The CM also calculated the LBT amount received from each corporation. However, despite long deliberations, no consensus was reached on the issue.
The traders’ community across the state has been opposing the LBT ever since it had been implemented in the state. Before the Lok Sabha elections in April, the traders’ community in Pune had announced that it would vote for the party which would abolish the LBT. Now with the state assembly elections approaching, the community is hoping that the LBT will be an election issue, and that the state government will suggest an alternative taxation scheme.
Speaking to dna after the meeting, Popat Ostwal, president of Federation of Traders Associations of Pune (FTAP) said, “ We had given proposal to the state government to scrap the LBT and impose an additional surcharge on the Value Added Tax (VAT). While the government officials gave a proposal to reintroduce the octroi in place of the LBT or the entry tax on goods, they were not implemented. Neither of the sides agree on each other’s proposal. Now we will be deciding our next course of action on June 15.”