Calling for total exemption on yarn and fabric from Goods and Services Tax (GST), cloth markets in Gujarat today observed bandh against the Centre’s proposed 5 per cent levy on these two items under the new tax regime. Also, dry fruits shops in the state observed a total bandh today to protest 12 per cent GST on dry fruits. According to Gaurang Bhagat, president of Maskati Cloth Mahajan, a body comprising wholesale and semi-wholesale cloth traders in Ahmedabad, nearly 50,000 cloth shop including wholesalers and semi-wholesalers today kept their shutters down in the city alone. Cloth markets across cities and towns in the state including those in Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Junagadh remained closed, demanding roll back of GST imposed on yarn and fabric, he said. “The 5 per cent GST imposed on yarn and fabric will create a lot of trouble to those in the business of selling cloth, and the process of GST is lengthy. We have been traditionally exempted from any kind of sales tax and VAT since 1957, and this new GST levy is uncalled for,” he said. “Government should put GST on cotton and raw material rather than processed cloth under this regime. We have asked our members not to register for GST till June 18 when the matter is reviewed by the government and the picture gets clearer, after which we will chalk out our further strategy,” he said.
There are around two lakh such shops which deal in processed cloth in the state, he said. The bandh call is also to extend support to similar calls made by other bodies. Bhagat said they will make a representation on their demands before the government representatives. Dry fruits and Kirana (grocery shops) associations demanded that the GST on dry fruits should be brought down to the existing rate of 5 per cent.
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“Higher GST rates on dry fruits are not feasible. Though we tried to reach out to the authorities to make a representation, we feel that our voice has not been heard. Thus, through this bandh, we want to draw the attention of the authorities,” said the joint statement.
“As against tax rate of 5 per cent VAT, the new rate under GST has been kept at 12 per cent for dry fruits. We want the government to review the proposed rate and make it nil or at least bring it down to 5 per cent,” it said.