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Dispur faces brickbats over VAT hike

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  7 July 2016 12:00 AM GMT

Is this the achhe din the BJP promised, asks Congress

AASU, AJYCP, Left parties stage protests across State

By Our Staff Reporter

Guwahati, July 6: Protests erupted across the State as the BJP-led alliance government came under heavy fire over its decision to increase VAT on as many as 129 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The State government has withdrawn partial exemption granted to oil companies on sale of LPG (cooking gas) for domestic use within Assam, which will result in increase in prices of gas cylinders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 also 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, the 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 the Congress party for price rise, but the new BJP government instead of giving relief has imposed additiol burden of VAT on them."

"The BJP had campaigned of 'achche din' during the elections but are these good days that people of Assam witnessing," he asked, adding "Where is the 'achche din' promised by them? I admit that we had failed to control price rise, but why has the BJP failed to do so as well?"

"We failed and so the people did not vote for us. They voted for the BJP, expecting better days, but the State government is doing just the opposite," Gogoi said, adding that although the Chief Minister had instructed the State machinery to contain price rise, the administration and bureaucrats have failed so far.

"The BJP government at the Centre had also claimed to have abolished illegal toll gates in different parts of the State. However, price rise is continuing and now the government has increased VAT which will further fuel price rise," Gogoi said.

APCC president-in-charge Ripun Bora said the prices of students' stationery and all medicines have shot up in Assam.

He said people voted the BJP to power on Prime Minister rendra Modi's promise that Sarbanda Sonowal would bring "sarbanda" (happiness to all).

"Instead, he has become a 'bipod' (danger) to the State," he quipped.

APCC chief spokesperson Apurba Kumar Bhattacharyya said the decision to hike VAT was taken at the first cabinet meeting on June 27, and questioned why the government kept the matter under wraps till the notification was out.

Left parties also staged protests across the State against the decision.

Expressing shock at the move, the AASU said it would stage state-wide demonstrations against the "anti-people" decision on July 8.

"We can't support such a decision. The people had voted for a change and the BJP-led alliance was given a clear mandate. Is this the change the BJP was talking about?" AASU president Dipanka Kumar th and secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi questioned in a statement.

The AJYCP also staged protests against the decision on Wednesday.

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, CFL bulbs, agricultural implements, all types of yarns, all kitchen utensils, bamboo items, all types of cycles and parts, bulk drugs, coffee beans and seeds, coir products, edible oils, paper, plastic footwear, printed material, readymade garments and renewable energy devices etc.

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