BHUBANESWAR: Congress members disrupted proceedings of the Assembly during the pre-lunch session on Thursday demanding a ruling from the Speaker on the proposed agitation by traders from Friday for exemption of five per cent VAT on essential commodities.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati said the traders’ stir will lead to price rise of essential commodities and hit poor people hard. Criticising the State Government for its failure to resolve the issue through discussion with traders, Bahinipati demanded a ruling from Speaker Niranjan Pujari in this regard.
Congress members rushed to the well shouting slogans after the Speaker rejected the demand. As the House could not be run because of noisy scenes, the Speaker adjourned it till 12.40 pm from 11.32 am.
After the House reassembled, Congress members again rushed to the well with the same demand as a result of which it was adjourned till 3 pm.
Two rounds of meeting between the State Government and traders remained inconclusive. Traders have threatened to stop import of pulses, grams, wheat and wheat products, edible oil, sugar and other items from April 1 to press their demand.
Finance Minister Pradip Amat said five per cent VAT is levied on dal, pulses, wheat products and other essential commodities from April 1, 2012 as per the recommendations of the empowered committee of Finance Ministers.
The State Government had requested chairman of the empowered committee last year to convene a meeting for uniform tax rate on these essential commodities and other agriculture products throughout the country. Sources said the Government cannot take a unilateral decision on it as the empowered committee is the competent body to take a decision in this regard.
Meanwhile, the State Government has discussed the situation with National Electronics Marketing Limited (NEML) for supply of pulses in view of the proposed stir.
Minister of State for Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Sanjay Dasburma said the Government has constituted a task force to review the situation with district Collectors on a daily basis and take remedial measures.
Dasburma, who reviewed the situation at a high level meeting, said the State has adequate stock of essential commodities and consumers need not panic. Stating that the Government is well aware of the demand of traders, the Minister said discussion will be held with them after the Assembly session.