The Local Body Trap

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Dreaded nightmares are what I used to call them when people judged my shopping cravings and poked fun saying, What if the markets shut for a day? In my heart I just laughed it off every single time knowing there’s no possibility of that day ever coming to life because hey, there are just too many shops and shoppers like myself that rely on that.

Malls Shut

And then it happened. THAT horrible day I called my most feared nightmare, came alive. I don’t understand why the government would penalise it but they went ahead to declare the replacement of octroi by local body tax. Now for shopaholics like me, the technicalities of the terms really don’t matter. What matters is that the bag I was eyeing in the shop window, the gorgeous looking chiffon saree, those summer dresses, flip flops and swimwear gears I’d look to flaunt this summer were all out of reach. And this time, not because I couldn’t afford them, but because they had barricades all around. To me, it was the local body tax that the government imposed seemed more like a local body trap. So I looked for solutions. And realised, for me to find one, I first needed to understand the problem.

What is Local Body Tax and why as a consumer should I be worried about its impending decision? The local body tax is an attempt of the government to impose duty on all goods coming inside the state and all its districts. The LBT is set to replace the existing laws of octroi and come in with a booming 4-7%

To explain this better, let me take the example of garments. International brands find local representatives and earn 40% of their sales world over for the branding. With the new laws of LBT, for any cargo or shipment to come in, one will have to pay a higher duty or tax. The already unaffordable-by-the-common-man Gucci bag which is priced above her monthly salary budget range will now not feature in her wishlist, maybe even store windows at all! The brands will realise that there is no market for their products because, even though the prices of commodities and luxuries will be taxed and rising by huge amounts, the income remains the same; diminishing the purchasing power and will to buy.

It is that new wave of revolution when the brands wake up to realise; someone who appears to be a Fashionista might actually be an asset. She is the reason for that booming industry and when she realises what this law can do to her dream world, she wants to know and be informed. She no longer is the one reading the glossy pages of a fashion magazine. She’s the one urging the government to understand that it is the consumers who pay 27 types of existing taxes and she sure as hell does not need another one.

The LBT set to come in at 4-7% the consumer will pay yet higher than his purchasing power. His income has not risen but his expenditure considerably has. This makes any sensible buyer want to refrain and retaliate in protest and go on strike and hence we come back to every shopaholic’s worst nightmare coming alive. Shops will shut shutters, malls will grill down, their once perfect world that breathed the fresh air of walking into stores feeling the high of new shoes and clothes will come collapsing down, all for one law that I label the local body trap. I repeat, it’s not a tax, it’s a trap.

It’s a matter of concern for us shopaholics they said, conveniently overlooking the ones losing their only meal a day. Support the movement. No LBT. No Octroi. Raise your voice, you’re a part of it too.

By: Khushboo Khanna

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