Odisha Assembly stalled over VAT on food items

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Bhubaneswar,The Odisha Assembly was stalled during the pre-lunch session as the opposition Congress created a ruckus in the House demanding the Speaker’s ruling over exemption the Value Added Tax (VAT) on food items.

The issue was raised by Congress Chief Whip Taraprasad Bahinipati during the Zero hour.

The Congress agitation in Well of the House came a day after the state government’s talks with the traders failed to take decision of the latter’s demand of exempting VAT (value added tax) on food items like wheat, pulses, wheat products, edible oil and some other items.

Meanwhile, the traders body issued notice not to import food items from other states from April 1 which could lead to price rise of essential commodities in the market, Bahinipati said.

Seeking to know what steps the state government has taken to avoid the emergent situation after April 1, the Congress members demanded Speaker give a direction to the minister to give a statement in the House.

As Speaker Niranjan Pujari went ahead with other business, the angry Congress members rushed to the well and raised anti-government slogan. Unable to run the house, Pujari adjourned the hour for one hour and later till 3 pm.

The All Odisha Traders’ Association (FAOT) Secretary Sudhakar Panda said their agitation is to protect the interest of the consumers and also for the state.

“While 25 of 29 states in the country are not levying VAT on pulses, wheat and other food items, the Odisha government imposed it on high rate. It is the consumers who are bearing the brunt. We have been demanding withdrawal of VAT on food items,” Panda said.