Better late than never, say happy traders

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Ahmedabad, Nov 14 (UNI) ''We appreciate the government's gesture in finally scrapping the octroi. Had it come a bit earlier it would have been graceful,'' said Mr Jayendra Tanna, president, Gujarat Vyapari Hitrakshak Samiti.

Speaking to UNI, Mr Tanna said ''Our organisation is appealing to traders and business community to pass on the three to five per cent gain from octroi, to the consumers.'' He further said, ''The move to finally discard octroi was the result of growing public pressure from all concerned corners including the traders and chambers that made the government to act. Octroi was a genuine problem for all of us. Nowhere in the world can one find such an outdated tax regime.'' He recalled that the struggle against octroi was launched in 1997-98 by the business and industrial communities. In 2001, Keshubhai regime partially removed the octroi from 80 per cent of geographical area of the state. Actually the 80 per cent area was contributing to 20 per cent revenue of the state. Yet the draconian law continued in the municipal corporations, he said.

''The politicians have been promising, but were not doing anything to scrap octroi. During last October-November 2006, we went on 12 days agitation with support coming from all, including the chambers,'' he said.

''Despite dragging its feet, the BJP deserves kudos by its move to abolish octroi. However in contrast, the Congress is maintaining a studied silence on the issue. People are now closely watching the manifestoes of political parties to see whether any alternative tax that is being planned, does not supplant octroi,'' Mr Tanna added.

Octroi, which goes out from midnight, was abolished following the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) last April.

All the seven municipal corporations are likely to lose around Rs 1,600 crore annually with Ahmedabad Municipal corporation alone standing to lose around Rs 400 crore.

UNI

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