BHUBANESWAR: Flexing their muscles, commodity traders of the State have stopped import of edible items like pulses, wheat and wheat products, sugar and edible oil from Friday for an indefinite period protesting State Government’s refusal to withdraw value added tax (VAT) on these items.
The traders’ strike triggered panic buying of the essential commodities by the people in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Though the impact of the strike was not visible on the first day with prices of the edible items remaining unchanged, there is a likelihood of price rise within a day or two, if the traders continue their strike for long.
“The current stock of pulses, sugar, oil and wheat will hardly last for a week. In case of panic buying, a common tendency of the consumers during such situations, the prices will go up. It is the responsibility of the administration to monitor the demand and supply and ensure that the consumers get the commodities at fair price,” Odisha Byabasayi Mahasangha secretary Sudhakar Panda told this paper.
Panda said he had appealed to the traders not to resort to unfair trade practices and cooperate with the administration.
On an average, the State imports around 2500 tonnes of pulses, 4000 tonnes of wheat and wheat-based items, 2500 tonnes of sugar and 2000 tonnes of edible oil on daily basis.
Malgodown in Cuttack, the biggest wholesale market of the State wore a deserted look as traders stopped procuring grocery products.
Joining the strike called by the Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Associations (FAOTA) against what they called imposition of “exorbitant and uncalled” for VAT on the food products by the State Government, the Malgodown traders said the strike will continue till the Government withdraws the VAT as done by many States.
Meanwhile, the State Government has decided to procure commodities through national e-marketing.
“We have initiated talks with National e-marketing Limited for procurement of pulses to tackle the situation. We hope it will yield the desired result,” Minister of State for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Minister Sanjay Dasburma told reporters here on Thursday.
The Government has also constituted a Task Force to review the market situation. The district collectors have been instructed to keep close watch on traders and take action against those who are indulged in hoarding of the essential items.