GUWAHATI, March 14 - The All Assam Traders� Association and All Guwahati Traders� Association have called a shutdown of shops and business establishments from 5 am to 5 pm on Wednesday protesting the �abnormal� hike in the labour licence fee.
Chief convenor of the All Assam Traders� Association Prantosh Roy said the previous Congress government had hiked the labour licence fee by nearly 10 times. �The present government, too, implemented the hike. No consultations were held before effecting the hike, nor any notification published. It is only when traders had gone for the annual renewal of the licence in January last that they came to know about it,� Roy said.
He said there are 6.5 lakh traders in the State and 98 per cent of them are retailers and small traders. �How can they afford to pay such a huge amount?� Roy said.
He said that several memoranda had been submitted to the authorities, protest meetings held and demonstrations staged, but to no avail.
�The government did not pay heed to our demand, so we have been forced to call for the shutdown. Drug dealers� association, booksellers and publishers� association, jewellers� association, textile association and readymade garments association are with us,� he said.
He said district trader associations have also extended support to the call. �We want the government to hold talks and arrive at an amicable solution. We are ready to accept a reasonable hike in the fee,� Roy said.
Among other demands of the traders� body are life insurance schemes, hospital insurance, accident insurance, easy availability of loan and a pension scheme.