Bhubaneswar: Odisha Legislative Assembly on Monday witnessed uproarious scenes during ‘Zero Hour’ after the opposition Congress targeted the State Government over the Centre levying GST on puffed rice (Mudhi) and flattened rice (Chuda).
The Congress members trooped into the Well of the House, shouted slogans and disrupted the proceedings protesting against the imposition of GST on certain food items
As the protest grew, Speaker Bikram Keshari Arukh was forced to adjourn the house twice, first for ten minutes and again till 4 pm. The Congress members urged the Speaker to allow a resolution to pass in the House demanding the withdrawal of the tax on food items. They also demanded a statement from the Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari in the House on the issue.
During Question Hour, Congress MLA Suresh Kumar Routray raised this issue during question hour and said the imposition of GST on food items of poor people and children is unfortunate.
He requested Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to write to the Centre to withdraw its decision. Otherwise, let the state government bear the GST cost on the items like puffed rice and flattened rice.
In his response, Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari said, “As per levying of GST on puffed rice and flattened rice is concerned, it is the subject of GST Council and Odisha, a single state, cannot take any decision on this.”
However, Mr.Pujari clarified that only packaged and labeled puffed rice would attract GST, therefore it will have no impact on customers and traders in rural areas these items which are sold in loose.
Congress lawmaker Tara Prasad Bahinipati and his party colleagues Santosh Singh Saluja also raised the same issue during Zero Hour.
Mr.Bahinipati demanded the Speaker to form a house panel to meet the GST Council chairman and Prime Minister on this issue.
The members said in Odisha, puffed rice, flattened rice, parched rice, curd, milk, jaggery is consumed by poor people and also offered as Prasad in temples. If tax is imposed on these items, poor people will be affected and the baby food would become dearer.
The agitated Congress members rushed to the well shouted slogans in support of their demand and demanded its withdrawal.
The Speaker appealed to the members to return to their seats and cooperate in smooth conduct of the business of the house. But the Congress members did not pay any heed to the Speaker’s appeal and continued their slogan shouting forcing the Speaker to adjourn the house twice.
Notably, several food items like puffed rice, flattened rice, parched rice, rice, wheat, curd, lassi, jaggery and milk attracted 5 percent GST from Monday after the GST Council meeting decided to lift the tax exemption on some packaged and labeled items.