J&K budget anti-trade, anti-poor: JKCCI

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SRINAGAR: Terming the Jammu & Kashmir budget as “anti-trade and anti-poor”, the Jammu and Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries ( JKCCI ) has threaded to call a strike in Jammu from June 4, if the government does not rollback the increase in value-added tax ( VAT ) and toll taxes as proposed in the budget.
In first of its kind, the Jammu traders who shared the stage in a meeting with the Valley traders also supported the Bandh call while appealing the state administration to rollback the taxes.
Valley traders urged the business community of Kashmir to down their shutters on Saturday to protest against the budget 2016-17 in case government failed to roll back the taxes.
The various trade bodies including Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCC&I), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Kashmir Traders & Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) and Jammu Chamber of Commerce & Industry after holding joint meeting over budget 2016-17 presented by the finance minister, Dr Hasseb A Drabu, urged the valley businessmen to close down their shops on Saturday to mark a protest against the government.
In a statement, the call according to a trade body member was given against increase from 5% to 14 ½ % in Schedule D–I, Entertainment duty of Rs.50/- per connection on satellite and cable TV, no exemption of tax, for Walnut wood carving products, long demanded tax exemption has not been given on handicraft made-up products like bags cushion covers etc, increase of 5% tax on ATF, neglecting long pending demand for Artisan Credit Card Scheme sought to be brought at par with the Kisan Credit Card Scheme, nothing specific from the state has been provided to compensate/provide relief to the flood victims, business or common man leaving them to suffer indefinitely, not addressing removal of negative list of items being manufactured by local industries, no consideration over waiving of interest/surcharge from power dues and waiver of penalties in the matter of defaults in commercial tax too has not been given any consideration.
“The Chamber feels totally disappointed from the traders’ point of view as the main demand of the trading community for rationalization of taxes has not been met in the budget,” CCI president Rakesh Gupta said.
He said CCI feels that pre-budget meetings were just “eyewash” and the people in financial department have rushed to just fulfill the formality of presenting budget without sensing what impact this increase of VAT and toll taxes will have on trade and the common man.
“CCI declares this state budget as anti-trade and anti-poor. We demand complete roll back of increase in VAT as the trade can’t survive with highest ever taxes being imposed as compared with the rest of India. Also, the increase in toll tax which we have termed illegal will make all commodities costlier,” Gupta said.
He said CCI has convened a meeting of all business associations tomorrow as it has been left with no option but to call a strike if the state government does not roll back the increase in Vat and toll tax.

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