The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has called for a nationwide bandh on February 26 against several "arbitrary" and "draconian" provisions of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said about 1500 big and small organizations from all states including Delhi will protest against the GST amendments on Friday. "Traders and transporters will not log on to the GST portal in a bid to register their anguish and resentment," they said.
Who is protesting
According to CAIT, more than 8 crore traders belonging to more than 40,000 business organisations across the country will join their 'Bharat Vyapar Bandh' by closing down their shutters in protest.
The All India Transporters Welfare Association, one of the foremost apex bodies of India's Road Transport Sector, has extended support to the bandh call.
"All state level-transport associations have confirmed their support to AITWA in this one-day non-operation of transport in protest of the fuel price hike and scrapping of new E-way bill laws introduced by Government of India. The nature of the movement is to reject booking and movement of all E-Way Bill oriented goods for one day. All transport companies are asked to park their vehicles between 6 am to 8 pm as a symbolic protest. All transport godowns will display the protest banners. All customers will be approached by transport companies not to book or load any goods on February 26th, 2021," Mahendra Arya, National President AITWA, said.
CAIT said several leading national and state-level organisations of small-scale industries, hawkers, women entrepreneurs, self-entrepreneurs and other sectors of trade have offered support to the bandh. The Hawkers Joint Action Committee, a national organisation of hawkers, too is in favour of the vyapar bandh.
The traders' body said several state-level organisations of chartered accountants and tax advocates in various states are supporting the bandh call. They have decided to keep their offices closed during the bandh, CAIT said.
What will be affected, and what won't be
- Transport services in the country could be affected.
- Markets likely to remain partially shut, depending on respective associations' decision.
- Essential services, medicine shops, milk vegetable shops, etc won't be affected on February 26.
- Bank services expected to remain unaffected.
Why the protest and what is the demand
CAIT is protesting against several "arbitrary" and "draconian" provisions made through amendments in GST rules. The traders' body is also demanding issuance of new press notes in the FDI policy to curb the notoriety and arbitrariness of foreign companies in the e-commerce trade.
According to CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal, unilateral amendments made in the GST rules have generated resentment and anger among the traders. "Through these amendments, arbitrary powers have been given to the tax authorities, in particular, now any officer can suspend or cancel the GST registration number of any trader for any reason, according to his discretion, also the bank account and property of any trader can be confiscated that too without any show-cause notice and no opportunity of hearing. What kind of rule is this? Traders are denied their fundamental rights," they said.
The duo said that such rules will not only increase manifold corruption but the traders will be harassed and victimized. "The traders can also be deprived of taking credit for their money which is deposited with the department as input. Apart from this, there are many other rules in which the traders are denied their fundamental rights," they noted.