The state government has kicked off the process to introduce local body tax (LBT) in place of the existing octroi system with effect from April 1. But the path forward is anything but smooth, with strong opposition from traders’ associations and also office bearers at Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC). Interestingly, everyone, right from the government to traders’ association and office bearers support abolition of octroi.
Municipal commissioner Shyam Wardhane held a meeting with representatives of almost all traders’ associations of the city on Wednesday. “We met to collect suggestions and objections of traders’ associations. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan met civic chiefs of six municipal corporations, including NMC, and had asked for collection of all views. Some 38 persons representatives of various associations participated and registered strong opposition to LBT. All welcome abolition of octroi but do no want LBT. They wanted the government to wait till introduction of goods and services tax ( GST) by the central government to avoid LBT. We will forward the views of the associations to the government,” he said.
Wardhane added that NMC was still studying LBT and guidelines by the government. “Decision to introduce LBT will be taken by the government. NMC will act according to the notification. We will submit details demanded from us in a short period. Provisions to introduce LBT already exist in Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act (MMC),” he said.
Secretary of Vidarbha Taxpayers Association Tejinder Singh Renu told TOI the opposition from traders’ associations was so strong that they even refused to see NMC’s presentation. “NMC asked us to see a presentation. But the traders registered their strong opposition verbally and also in writing. No one was ready to see the presentation. There was no need to see the presentation when we are firm on the decision not to accept LBT,” he said.
Supporting the traders’ associations, leader of ruling party Praveen Datke also expressed opposition to LBT. “Government held two meetings on LBT issue, which is related to NMC. But neither mayor Anil Sole nor chairman of standing committee Dayashankar Tiwari were informed by the municipal commissioner about the government’s move related to NMC revenues. The mayor has already declared opposition to LBT after taking into consideration views of all group leaders,” he said.
However, Datke accepted that the decision to oppose LBT was not told to the municipal commissioner or the government. “We will present our views when we are asked by the civic chief or government. We are prepared to launch an agitation if the government introduces LBT. Decision to abolish octroi was OK, but not if it is replaced by LBT,” he said.
So, even as the government and NMC administration are in favour of LBT, the traders’ associations and office bearers are opposing it. However, the Congress and NCP corporators and leaders are yet to reveal their views. The next meeting with the government on LBT is on January 15.