Salt producers in Gujarat, which contributes to nearly 70% of salt requirement of the country, will stop production and supply into the market for three days from Tuesday, as a protest against the 5% VAT imposed on industrial salt. They have demanded complete rollback of the duty.
“We protest imposition of 5% VAT on industrial salt by the state government. We will stop production and supply for three days and will hold rallies and protest march pressing for our demand for a complete rollback,” Small Scale Salt Manufacturers’ Association president Bachchubhai Ahir said.
Ahir, who is also spokesperson of Namak Satyagrah Samiti formed to protest the VAT imposition, said that salt manufacturers will stop production beyond three days if the government does not take action on their demand.
Salt manufacturers, mostly based in Gandhidham on Gujarat’s western coast, said the 5% VAT on industrial salt, introduced in the 2016-17 annual Budget, is full of technical complexities which expose them to harassment from VAT inspectors. This is the first time that the state government has levied VAT on salt, since the British-era.
“VAT will be levied on manufacturers who work on 10 acre or more plots given on lease by the state government. There are 25,000 manufacturers who work on 10 acres or more plot of land, but 25% of them have no lease as nothing was done to renew the lease,” Ahir said.
“Then there are nearly 40,000 salt pan workers who work on less than 10 acres plot, and they hardly have obtained or renewed lease. Furthermore, to distinguish industrial salt from edible salt is a difficult task for them. So VAT imposition only compounds their problem,” he said, adding that the government will hardly earn R3 crore from VAT on salt.
“We protest Inspector Raj and will continue to stop production unless our demands are met. The government is bent on harassing 50,000 families which are involved in manufacturing salt for a living,” he alleged.