Cloth merchants in the city, including leading shops, launched a strike on Saturday by downing their shutters in protest against bringing textiles under the Sensitive Commodities Act and delay in complete abolition of Value Added Tax (VAT).

The cloth merchants will abstain from selling textiles till March 17.

A meeting will be held at Guntur on that day to finalise their future course of action. A shop or mall dealing with both textiles and ready-made garments will, however, continue to sell the latter. Ready-made garments are not included in the sensitive list.

Rally

A huge rally was taken out by the cloth merchants and workers engaged by them from the LIC junction to the Office of Deputy Commissioner, Commercial Taxes, VUDA building, Siripuram.

Earlier, they formed a human chain at Jagadamba junction raising slogans against the State government’s decision to impose VAT on all categories of cloth traders.

“It’s totally irrational. In labour-intensive cloth business, VAT should go completely. It is a huge burden on the traders. Now, bringing them under Sensitive Commodities Act is a rude shock for all of us,” Mavuri Venkata Ramana, chairman and managing director of CMR Group, said.

Strongly condemning the decision, Vizagapatam Cloth Merchants’ Association president K. Mallikarjuna Rao said Andhra Pradesh was the only State to classify cloth business as sensitive. If a merchant failed to prepare a waybill, he would be sent to jail. “This is nothing but harassment of businessmen,” he said. He said the fresh move would lead to diversion of business to Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and other States.

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