On the day the goods and services tax came into play across the country, a majority of cloth shops in Gujarat remained shut while those who kept it open said they did not carry out any business transaction. Various cloth merchant associations in the state as well as in some other states had earlier called for a three- day protest across the country from June 27 to 29. The bandh and protests continued in different parts of the state as a majority of shops remained closed today, and those which remained open saw no transaction as none had any GST number.
“There is no bandh call made by any association, but most shops remained shut on their own in protest. There is no business as no merchant has acquired GST number yet, and the situation is likely to continue until a solution is arrived at by government,” said Gaurang Bhagat, president of Maskati Kapad Mahajan, an association of cloth merchants in Ahmedabad. There are around 2.5-3 lakh cloth merchants in the state who will suffer losses due to the ongoing protest, Bhagat said.
“Not that we are against GST. What we are saying is that government should listen to our concerns and address it properly. Our business will remain suspended and we hope government will come out with some solution,” he said. Gaurav Shrimali, a cloth merchant from Surat said while markets are open in the city, there is no business as no shop owner has the required GST number to carry out transaction. “We will continue our protest. Today we decided to gather outside the market and protest by shedding our clothes, so that government gets to hear our concerns,” he said.
Cloth merchants are demanding a complete withdrawal of the 5 per cent GST on clothes, and have said merchants were not given much time for GST compliance. They said cloth merchants were never brought under any tax system, so they should be exempt from GST as well.
Ahmedabad’s kite manufacturers also protested against GST by taking out a rally. They said kite manufacturing being a cottage industry, GST on them will adversely affect small seasonal earnings made by local manufacturers.