State asked to meet long-pending demands

Demanding fair treatment by the State government, the Poultry Farmers and Traders’ Coordination Committee on Thursday launched an indefinite stir across the State.

Committee office-bearers said here on the day that they would withdraw the strike only if the government met their long-pending demands.

The main demand was to reduce to 5 per cent the 14.5 per cent tax on poultry meat. The office-bearers said the hike in prices of poultry meat from Rs.70 to Rs.95 a kg had force many out of the business.

Organisations such as the Poultry Farmers and Traders Samiti, the All Kerala Chicken Merchants and Commission Agents Association, the Kerala Poultry Farmers and Traders Association, and the All Kerala Poultry Federation had extended support to the strike.

Committee office-bearers said retail outlets in the State would remain closed till the government took a favourable decision. Traders who had procured poultry from other States would be allowed to sell it to buyers.

After clearing the stock, they would also join the strike. “In the existing tax method, a trader will have to pay Rs.28 for a ‘single chicken’ brought here for sale,” Binny Immatty and Benoy Kurian, committee office-bearers, said. Such a heavy tax system was not in existence in any other place.

The committee had also sought the cancellation of a new circular, issued by the Commissioner of Commercial Taxes, increasing the support price for poultry. Businesses up to Rs.60 lakh a year should get tax benefits. The ceiling was Rs.10 lakh now, they said.

P.K. Kunhon, State president, All Kerala Chicken Merchants and Commission Agents Association, said the strike sought to simplify the licensing norms for new poultry farms.

Mr. Kunhon said it was unfair to charge industrial tariff for power connections to poultry farms. “Since it is a farm venture, the government should extend the benefits available to that sector,” he said.

The traders expressed concern over the delay in setting up poultry waste treatment plants by local bodies.