The textile industry in Gujarat, on a three-day strike since Wednesday against the launch of GST, has threatened to go for an indefinite shut down from July 1 unless tax rates are revised. Similarly, ceramic industry, hardware units, dry fruits merchants and agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) merchants too have threaten for an indefinite strike. The GST council has proposed 28% tax on textile, dry fruits, hardware, ceramic and value added products of agricultural produces. All these industries and merchants have been demanding 0 to 5% tax bracket. “After several attempts to resolve the issue, the government has not given any positive response to us. So, finally we have started protest. It will be challenging for the present BJP government to achieve ambitious 150 seats in upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat if the government will not listen us on rate,” said Gaurag Bhagat, president of Maskati Cloth Merchants Association. Intensifying their protest when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on his two-day visit to Gujarat, about 50,000 textile merchants formed a human chain in Ahmedabad. Also, traders have announced boycott of mega event Textile India 2017 which will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister on Friday at Gandhinagar.
“This event is to strengthen the industry. While the government is not listening stakeholders’ voice, we should not be part of that. We will not participate in exhibitions in the Textile India to protest against GST rate,” said Tarachand Kasat, president of Vyapari Sangarsh Samiti (VSS). The GST council has proposed 28% GST on ceramic products. According to ceramic industry, such a high rate will kill the industry which is largely unorganised and small players are associate with it. Ceramic industry has also decided to go on an indefinite strike from July 1. “Ceramic is not a luxurious item. GST council has proposed 28% tax, which will kill the industry as most of the players are small. We met with Union minister of state for finance Arjun Ram Meghwal and he assured us to reduce the rate to 5%.
So far the council hasn’t changed it and now we have decided to go on an indefinite strike” said Suresh Sompura, president of Thangadh Ceramic Association. At present, tax rates in the ceramic industry in Gujarat are pegged at around 17-18%. Ceramic players are opposing the new rate of GST as this will not only increase the production costs but also raise the working capital costs by 10-11%. The new GST rates are expected to hit the unorganised players the most, which account for about 85% of India’s `35,000-crore ceramic industry, sources said. Meanwhile, hardware traders and APMC merchants are also preparing for an agitation from July 1 against GST. Over 200 APMCs of Gujarat have decided to shut for an indefinite period. In some parts of Saurashtra region, APMC traders have already started protests.