State Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said talks held by him with the traders this morning at Alapuzha with regard to bringing down poultry prices have failed.
Citing nil tax for chicken under the Goods and Services Tax, the state government has been insisting on fixing the prices at Rs 87 a kg.
Earlier, the state was levying 14.5 per cent value added tax on chicken and with the GST granting exemption for food products, including chicken, the price should have dropped.
However, the government said chicken prices had been raised 'artificially' to Rs 130 a kg just before the GST rollout on July 1.
The traders have rejected the government's directive to lower prices as not acceptable and are demanding Rs 100 per kg, saying they were getting the poultry products from neighbouring Tamil Nadu at a higher rate.
The traders were 'challenging' the government and insisting on Rs 100 a kg, Issac said after his talks failed with representatives of the All Kerala Poultry Federation.
The price rise was 'artificial', he said.
Association president M Tajuddeen said they were prepared to scale down the prices to Rs 100 from the present Rs 130. But the minister was insisting on Rs 87 a kg.
"So we have decided to shut shops and protest. We do not know how the Minister has arrived at the price of Rs 87. That is the farmers price. Transport charges, salaries of workers, have also to be added," he said.
General Secretary of the association S K Naseer said 'Our aim is not to challenge the government. This is a life and death issue. We cannot accept the government demand to bring down the price to Rs 87, which will be very uneconomical', he claimed.
According to the association, chicken prices had gone up due to drought much before the GST implementation.
Issac said the traders cannot fix prices according to their whims and fancies and consumers should get the benefit of GST.
The poultry prices are said to have been jacked up by 40 per cent just before the GST roll out.