Special Correspondent

Timber merchants submit memorandum to Chandy

KOZHIKODE: Timber merchants in Kozhikode have urged the Government to include silver rock and other commonly-traded softwood in the category of timber that attracts only four per cent levy under the new tax system.

The Kozhikode Timber Merchants Association has submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and appealed to him to take quick remedial action "to save their business from ruin."

A. Jayarajan, president of the association, said though under the new system, the tax on timber was 12.5 per cent, 48 types of trees had been made eligible for tax at four per cent. This had brought cheer to the timber merchants. But they soon found that the four per cent tax was not for the types of wood commonly traded at Kallai, the main timber-trading centre.

The timber merchants said that VAT would benefit them only if at least two types of wood - silver rock and `thanni' - that were commonly traded at Kallai were included in the list of trees that attracted four per cent tax.

Kallai's timber dealers had not able to attract buyers from Mumbai and Pune, which were once their favourite markets. High taxation and transportation costs had made the purchase of wood from Karnakata for sale in Mumbai and Pune unviable for Kallai traders. He said A.K. Antony had intervened to reduce the road tax imposed by the Karnataka Government from Rs.2,000 to Rs.500 per lorry-load when he was the Chief Minister.

The association said business could be improved by reducing VAT to four per cent on all types of wood, except imported logs and teak, and by developing Beypore port by setting up facilities for import of timber.