Demanding a cut in mandi tax to 0.5% from the existing 1.5%, MP traders' union has called for a three-day-long state-wide shutdown of mandis from today. "With the new ordinance on agri reforms, traders and farmers can now also buy and sell outside the mandi premises.
Therefore, there is need to curtail the mandi tax and provide a level-playing field to traders in the mandi," said Gopaldas Agarwal, president of the Madhya Pradesh Anaj Dalhan Tilhan Vyapar Sangh.
All 237 mandis in the state are shut from today and will now only open on Monday as Sunday is a weekly holiday, he said.
On Jun 3, the Union Cabinet approved the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, in a bid to promote barrier-free inter-state and intra-state trade outside markets notified under the State Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee legislation.
The ordinance was promulgated on Jun 5. Traders now do not need to pay tax on sale of products outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committee mandis, which the Centre believes would help farmers get better returns and improve access to markets across the country.
Citing decline in footfalls in the physical markets across the state because of the new amendment, the traders' body has urged the Centre to exempt mandi tax and cess collected for transactions entered into on mandi premises, while keeping a nominal maintenance charge.
Agarwal fears that in the long term, traders would eventually desert the mandis. In a letter to the government, the traders' union has also demanded a significant cut in mandi licence fees and for its validity to be made for a life-time. Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of soybean, chana, garlic, and among the leading growers of pulses, paddy, and wheat.
Traders in Rajasthan, the largest producer of mustard and a leading grower of soybean, castor, guar and chana, had also called for a four-day-long closure of mandis last week after the ordinance on inter-state trade of farm produce was approved. The north-western state's mandis resumed operations from Saturday, but on a temporary basis, Rajasthan Khadya Padarth Vyapar Sangh said earlier in a release. The Rajasthan traders' body has urged the Centre to consider its recommendations by mid-September in the greater interest of traders. It has threatened to strike for an indefinite period, if its demands were not considered.