Trade, Tax And Turmoil - Eastern Mirror
Thursday, May 23, 2024

Trade, Tax and Turmoil

By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 26, 2024 12:20 am

With no respite from tax burden for the people of Nagaland, especially the business community, the Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has called for an indefinite shutter down of business establishments in the state’s commercial hub. Ironically, Nagaland is one of the Indian states exempted from paying tax under Section 10(26) of the Income Tax Act, but entrepreneurs and traders from the state have to pay tax to not just one faction but to more than a dozen Naga political groups (NPGs). The growing tax burden, amid new factions being added to the list at regular intervals, has pushed the business community to the limit. The latest move of the DCCI is like shooting itself in the foot, as it will adversely affect the business community, especially small-time traders, besides the hardships it will cause the citizens and the negative impact on the state’s economy. But it seems to have no better option to address the growing menace of unabated multiple taxation, intimidation and summons from multiple NPGs, other than pulling down the shutters. The overwhelming support from civil society organisations, besides trading bodies from across the state, indicates that the issue is not endemic to Dimapur or business people. It is affecting everyone, either directly or indirectly.

While the apex trading bodies of Kohima, Chümoukedima and Wokha joined the protest by announcing the closure of business establishments in their jurisdictions on April 26, the Confederation of Nagaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CNCCI) has threatened to extend the agitation across the state from April 27 onwards if the government fails to address the grievances raised by the DCCI. Considering the gravity of the situation and possible escalation, the matter needs immediate attention. The anguish and frustration of the business people is understandable; however, the complexity of the matter can’t be ignored either. Like most revolutionary movements across the world, the NPGs are dependent on taxes for survival. Going by the “One government, one tax” resolutions passed by several civil society organisations, it is clear that the issue is not about “taxation” but “multiple taxation”. However, it is easier said than done with the factions unwilling to come together under one umbrella despite little difference in their objectives and ideologies. The government of India has also signed ceasefire agreements with most of the NPGs, which could act as an impediment or a catalyst for a solution, depending on its approach. Despite these complexities, it is imperative to address this burning issue, which is not only affecting the business community but also the citizens, investment prospects and the growth of the state. For now, the government should implement pragmatic measures to stop the agitation from escalating. But to solve the issue once and for all, the negotiating parties should expedite the peace talks and solve the Naga political issue.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Apr 26, 2024 12:20:39 am
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