Guwahati: A massive protest broke out against the BJP-led alliance government in Assam on Wednesday following the decision of the government to increase VAT on as many as 127 items from 5 to 6 per cent.
The state government has withdrawn partial exemption granted to oil companies on sale of LPG (cooking gas) for domestic use within Assam, which will result in increase in prices of gas cylinders by Rs 14 each. The price of petrol will increase by 76 paise and diesel by Rs 1.67 per litre.
In a move that has been opposed by various civil society groups and political parties, Assam government intends to generate Rs 500 crore by increasing VAT.
Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi who took the lead in opposing the decision of the government told reporters, “People of Assam voted out Congress party for price rise but the new BJP government instead of giving relief has imposed additional burden of VAT on them.” He claimed that extortion and all illegal collections from truckers have gone up, even after the decision of the state government to remove illegal check gates that they alleged was responsible for price rise during the Congress regime.
VAT has been increased on medical diagnostic kits, x-ray films and other diagnostic films, medical equipment, devices and implants, spectacles, spare parts of motor vehicles, medicines, honey, glucose, sugar and CFL bulbs, agricultural implements, all types of yarns, all kitchen utensils, bamboo items, all types of cycles and their parts, bulk drugs, coffee beans and seeds, coir products, edible oils, paper, plastic footwear, printed material, readymade garments and renewable energy devices etc.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbanada Sonowal however defended the decision, saying that burden of VAT would not be passed on to consumers. He said that most of the state governments had taken this step long ago to mobilise resources, but the previous government ignored it deliberately.
Leader of Assam Congress Legislature Party (ACLP) Debabrata Saikia on Wednesday appealed to the government to withdraw the decision to increase VAT on the 127 items and hoped that the government will bring in 'achche din'....