The UT government is taking steps to set up a trader’s welfare board here soon, said Chief Minister N Rangasamy. Addressing the first State conference of the Pondicherry Traders Federation on Tuesday, Rangasamy said officials of the commercial tax department are working on modalities for setting up the board on the lines of Tamil Nadu.
The Chief Minister said there was no two opinion on safeguarding the welfare of the traders and the government was keen on fulfilling their long-pending demand. He said traders were contributing nearly `80 crore per month as sales tax, which was a major revenue for the Union Territory. The people and tourists from neighbouring States are reaching Puducherry because of the faith on the traders here, who sell quality products to them, he added. Referring to the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT), the CM said the Centre had repeatedly insisted that he implement it in the UT.
Claiming that this invited the wrath of the Centre, he said despite this, he had presented tax free budgets without the proposal for VAT.The CM also claimed that on several occasions, he did not attend Chief Minister’s conferences and came back without seeing officials at the top level in New Delhi as questions will be on the non-introduction of VAT in UT.
Reiterating that the Centre had reduced the grant, which affected the implementation of the schemes, he said previously it was 70 per cent Central grant and 30 per cent loan, but now it is 70 per cent Central loan and 30 per cent grant.
He said the VAT was finally implemented out of compulsions and when the traders gave a representation to reduce VAT for five items, the administration had reduced it for ten items.
Rangasamy also reiterated his demand for Statehood for the Union Territory at the conference.
Later, Union Minister of State for Prime Minister’s office, V Narayanasamy, who reached after the Chief Minister left the venue, recalled how the poor maintenance of law and order affected the traders and industrialists, with rowdies issuing death threats even from jail and seeking mammool. Naryanasamy said the situation has changed after the intervention of the Lieutenant Governor and the taking over of the Director General of Police.
Narayanasamy said the LG visited the shop owner, attacked by anti-social element and consoled him while those in power here failed to even visit him. He added that Congress party is committed to the safety and protection of all the traders here.
The Union Minister said Congress always favoured a special category state status for the UT as it would get 90 per cent Central grant and 10 per cent loan, which will make the UT financially viable.
Former Chief Minister and Opposition leader V Vaithilingam, Congress MLA Malladi Krishna Rao and Congress leader Sivakozhunthu also addressed the conference.