BHUBANESWAR: The Federation of All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOTA) on Sunday called off its strike and decided to resume buying of essential food items from other States.
The traders’ federation took the decision following assurance from the State Government to consider its demand for withdrawal of value added tax (VAT) from food items like pulses, wheat and wheat-based products, sugar and oil.
“We have got a written assurance from the State Government that it will consider our demands. Accordingly, we suspended our strike till May 26 when the budget session of the Assembly will be over. We will again resort to agitation after May 26 if the Government fails to take any visible action on our demands,” said FAOTA general secretary Sudhakar Panda.
“The proposal of Odisha Byabasai Mahasangha to reduce VAT on certain food items will be taken for consideration after May 26, 2016 i.e. after budget session of Odisha Legislative Assembly,” said a letter from Minister of State for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Sanjay Dasburma.
The Government has decided to constitute a committee which will study the demands of the traders, it said.
The Minister said an expert committee will be formed and it will examine the impact of such a tax on various food items. The Government will take a call after the panel submits its report.
The traders went on strike on April 1 to protest against the five per cent VAT levied by the State Government on the purchase of pulses, wheat and wheat products, oil and sugar from other States.
The traders resorted to an indefinite strike as their talks with the Government failed. The traders and the Government had their last discussion on Saturday.
The Government had turned down the traders’ demand citing that the matter of imposition of entry tax on agricultural products is pending before the Supreme Court.
Finance Minister Pradip Amat had said the constitutional validity of entry tax had been challenged. Meanwhile, the State had filed an affidavit to maintain status quo and hence, entry tax cannot be levied on pulses at this stage.