Some groups of traders, who have been agitating against the proposed local body tax (LBT), are beginning to relent and suggest alternatives to end the stalemate with the state government.
While formerly traders had ruled out the possibility of paying LBT, they are now demanding specialised software and an alternative agency to collect the tax.
As per the state’s plan, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will collect LBT – charged on items brought into the city – from October 1, in lieu of octroi.
Traders are demanding more accountability in the process - through the creation of new software and the inclusion of the new tax within the framework of the Maharashtra Value Added Tax Act 2002.
Alleging that the BMC’s track record is not favourable for the implementation and collection of the tax, Mohan Gurnani, president, Federation of Associations of Maharashtra, said: “We are against LBT and octroi because they inconvenience traders. What we need is independent software for calculation of tax and its collection under the provisions of the VAT system.”
A delegation of traders’ associations is scheduled to meet Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Friday.
Last month, the BMC’s assessment and collections department set up a special cell to plan and develop strategies for the implementation of LBT. The department is developing two softwares – one to register dealers and the other for overall assessment of revenue generated.
Despite assurances, traders are worried that LBT would mean they are at the mercy of corrupt civic officials.
“We are not against paying tax for the import of goods, but we are against the manner in which it will be collected,” said Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association. “We don’t want the BMC to be involved in this matter.”