New Govt., same old problem for business community
DIMAPUR, MARCH 17: New Government but same old problem for the business community in Nagaland as the Neiphiu Rio-led Government chooses to continue its policy of silence and inaction when it comes to problems involving armed Naga political groups.
Two days after the Confederation of Nagaland Chamber of Commerce and Industry sought clarification from Nagaland Government regarding “whose authority and governance” the Naga public should follow, the Dimapur Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) on Friday expressed shock and disappointment at the “utter silence” of the State Government even a week after the NSCN/GPRN (Khango) had announced a ban on tobacco products in Nagaland.
“While DCCI has no say in banning of illegal drugs and alcohol, the latter already banned under the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP), DCCI is of the expressed view that tobacco products cannot and should not be clubbed together with illegal drugs or alcohol.
“In the first place, tobacco products are being sold with full knowledge and permission from both the Centre as well as State Governments. The Centre gets maximum revenue from tobacco products and even the State Governments get their share of Goods & Service Tax (GST)”, it stated in a press release.
The blanket ban imposed by the Naga group on tobacco products, “which are being sold legally after paying all due taxes”, will affect the livelihood of thousands of shopkeepers in all districts of Nagaland, the DCCI reminded.
“Moreover, as evidenced by the current implementation of the NLTP Act, banning of tobacco products will only lead to black marketing, increase in prices of tobacco products and, ultimately, syndicate system.
“Now, the ball is in the court of the State Government to make a firm decision on whether selling of tobacco products, after paying all taxes, is legal or illegal”, it asserted.
The DCCI maintained that Nagaland Government cannot afford to remain complacent as the livelihood of not only tobacco products dealers and distributors but of thousands of shopkeepers are on the line.
“The Government and its agencies must also immediately ensure that tobacco products dealers and shopkeepers are not harassed because of the ban. DCCI also appeals to the NSCN/GPRN (Khango) to lift the ban in the interest of the State as a whole, especially the struggling business community”, it stated.
The DCCI also reminded shops selling tobacco products to strictly follow the COPTA guidelines and practice ethical trade. Selling of tobacco products near educational institutions and to minors should be totally off-limits, it warned.
(Page News Service)