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Saturday, 01 June, 2013, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Manjushree Naik
The month-long agitation over implementation of Local Body Tax (LBT) in Maharashtra by traders has been temporarily suspended following an assurance by state chief minister Prithviraj Chavan that no action would be taken unless both the parties - the government and agitators arrived at a consensus over the issue.

While this has brought relief to the likes of Federation of Associations of Maharashtra (FAM) president Mohan Gurnani who have been spearheading the agitation mostly throughout Mumbai where the implementation has been scheduled for October 1, 2013, those that are belonging to municipalities like Kalyan-Dombivli and Pune, where LBT is already in place, are not happy with the scene. However, they do not have a choice as well.

For instance, traders in Kalyan-Dombivli have been paying LBT for more than a year now, and hence, did not even participate in the agitations and protests and now, are not interested in the outcome of the consensus-building meets.

That being the scenario with regard to the traders, the CM, leading a cash-strapped state, has been adamant that LBT will not be withdrawn. At the best, few norms may be relaxed. And he has every reason to put his foot down. Once again, a look at the statistics in Kalyan-Dombivli reveals that since the implementation of LBT the civic body here – the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation – has recorded a revenue rise of 20 per cent.

And this increased percentage is quite an impressive figure for a municipality, which used to have money barely to pay salaries to its employees, till recently. Also it goes to show that no amount of agitations will make the government relent on its stand.

It is this standoff that entails a consensus. While the government seems to be sincere in its attempts to tackle the issue, it is highly likely that the traders start questioning the very exercise by objecting to the selection of associations, traders’ bodies and their representatives to be a part of it.

However, the government could avoid these pitfalls by working on a strategy. First it needs to ensure that it includes all the municipalities concerned and the key associations, traders’ bodies that are a par of it. As second step, it could identify the areas that were being objected to by the traders. Then hold comprehensive meetings with all concerned and come up with various suggestions to avoid the problems. Once that is done, work on the final solution and get a nod for the same from all concerned.

It is only such an all-inclusive approach, which will take the issue to a proper acceptable conclusion for all concerned.
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