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Traders step up VAT protest

Dhanbad, July 19: The voice of dissent against the state government grew louder today with foodgrain merchants of the coal town launching a poster campaign at Agriculture Produce Market Committee complex at Barwaddah.

The protesters demanded immediate withdrawal of five per cent value added tax (VAT) on branded foodgrain items imported from other states. The week-long agitation kicked off on July 15. The traders intensified the protest the next day by wearing black badges and burning effigies.

Rajiv Sharma, president of Federation of Dhanbad Zilla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The state government’s decision to impose 5 per cent VAT will not only affect the traders adversely but also the customers, as prices of branded foodgrains will go up. Agriculture is not the backbone of our state. Moreover, the existing number of rice mills is not enough to meet the rising demand.”

“Instead of imposing VAT on imported branded items, the state government should have taken steps to start an agricultural revolution for the benefit of farmers,” he added.

President of Vyavsai Sangh Motilal Agarwal said the move would also promote illegal trade as local businessmen would buy foodgrains at a cheaper rate from Barakar and Purulia of Bengal.

Spokesman of Jharkhand Vyavsai Sangh Vikash Kandhway pointed out that the BJP was targeting the Centre over price hike, but at the same time, was imposing VAT on foodgrains here.

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