NCP, Cong, MNS, RPI slam traders for protest, back government

All political parties in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), except Shiv Sena and BJP, have decided to stand by the government's decision to implement local body tax (LBT) in the civic jurisdiction, while opposing the demand of traders to collect the tax for civic body under the existing Value Added Tax (VAT) system.

As the traders are not giving up their agitation, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had urged all the civic bodies to let their views be known on ways to implement LBT that came into existence after the abolition of octroi.

Mayor Vaishali Bankar had called a meeting of leaders of all political parties in PMC on Tuesday. Representatives of the ruling NCP and Congress attended the meeting along with MNS and RPI, while the BJP and Shiv Sena decidedly stayed away. The BJP and Shiv Sena have already extended their support to the traders' stand.

"Three issues relating to LBT have been discussed at the meeting and we have unanimously taken a stand on the issues. We will convey them to the state government," said the mayor.

The first issue was on whether to allow collection of LBT on the basis of VAT system with the sales tax department collecting the tax, said Bankar adding, "This suggestion was ruled out completely as the elected representatives realised this would threaten the autonomy of the civic body. The LBT collection should be done only by PMC."

There was a proposal to entrust the excise department officers with powers to checking the traders' accounts. But it was rejected as it would mean lack of trust on the civic administration.

"The powers of checking the accounts of traders should remain with the municipal corporation. We are against handing over the responsibility to any other department," she said.

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