Mumbai: Markets in Mumbai have been shut for days now as traders fight against the controversial Local Body Tax. It has been estimated that the strike has incurred a loss of almost Rs 75,000 crore and it still counting.
From grocery stores to restaurants to apparel stores, the bandh was near total. Around 40 traders were detained for holding a rally without permission at Lohar Chawl. But that was no deterrent. Traders are digging in their heels - vowing to intensify their agitation.
Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) President Mohan Gurnani said, "We are not going to stop our agitation until the Chief Minister gives in. We will go on."
Merchants have been agitating for over two weeks against the LBT. The Local body tax is a new taxation system in place of OCTROI, payable to the local civic bodies, introduced in 24 municipal corporations in Maharashtra. Mumbai and Nagpur are to start paying LBT later this year.
Traders are demanding that the new tax be clubbed within the existing taxation regime and are against a double tax regime, since Value Added Tax is already in place. Aside of shutting shops, traders say they will pay only five per cent of Value Added Tax till the issue is resolved.
The Chief Minister, for his part, has assured the traders a fair representation in a newly formed committee to monitor the new taxation system. But traders say they will continue their strike until they get more definite assurances.
Political support has poured in for the trader community with the Shiv Sena, BJP and NCP requesting the Chief Minister to reconsider LBT. Shiv Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackeray said, "The Committee which is being talked about, which would have representatives from all walks, will come out with a suggestion. Till the time LBT should not be imposed."
Even in the face of mounting losses, this is one fight where traders don't seem willing to give in.