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‘Taxation’ by armed groups forcing businesses out: Nagaland trade body

Try to regain market lost by up to 75% before it’s too late, it urges State government

Almost a year after Nagaland Governor R.N. Ravi poked the State government for letting “armed gangs” reign and carry out “gunpoint extortions”, the State’s largest trade body has warned of such groups driving businesses out.

The Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), based in Nagaland’s commercial hub, said “unabated taxation” by the government and “Naga political groups (NPGs)” — a euphemism for armed extremist groups — had made many traders shift base to Assam.

The traders have been forced to exit Nagaland because they have had enough of paying 50-75% of their profit margin to the NPGs, the DCCI said in a statement issued on Saturday evening.

While Assam has gained, the business volume of Nagaland has shrunk by 60-75%, the DCCI said as it advised the State government to wake up to this alarming development and try to regain the market lost.

The BJP is the minor partner in the alliance government headed by Neiphiu Rio of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party.

The trade body said the business scenario in Nagaland has hit its lowest ebb because of being taxed heavily. “If the State government and the NPGs do not take immediate corrective steps, business in Nagaland is heading towards a point of no return,” it warned.

The DCCI gave the example of Manipur-bound businesses that shifted to Silchar in southern Assam over the last few years. These businesses depended on goods and services to and from Manipur via the highway linking Dimapur and Manipur capital Imphal.

These businesses are now focussed on the alternative highway to Imphal, via Jiribam bordering southern Assam. “Consequently, the chain-support business such as hotels, transport and wayside dhabas in Nagaland have been hit hard,” the DCCI said.

The trade body also said the number of monthly train wagons arriving at the Dimapur railway station has come down to a ‘miserable’ 20 from 120 a year ago. The number of trucks entering Nagaland has similarly reduced drastically, it said.

“In this age where consumers are highly aware of their rights, and with the GST regime in place, any GST product being sold above MRP is near impossible and also an offence, and hence the business community in Nagaland sells any products on MRP.”

But while traders in Nagaland get the same profit margin as their counterparts elsewhere in the country, they have to shell out 50-75% of it in ‘taxes’ to the NPGs on average, the DCCI said.

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