Srinagar, May 03: As the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council is set to discuss the law on May 4, the valley’s business community hopes for exemption of the handicraft sector.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would chair the 27th GST Council meet. State finance ministers would participate in the meeting through video conferencing to discuss simpler return form and the amendments required in the indirect tax regime rules.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) President, Javed Ahmad Tenga, told The Kashmir Monitor that amendments were required in this law particularly for the handicrafts sector of Kashmir.
“We were trying to achieve exemption for the handicraft sector. We held a meeting and hope that this issue will be raised in the GST Council meeting by our Finance Minister to restore the dying sector,” he said.
Tenga said that post GST the handicraft sector suffered a setback, leaving the artisans to fend for themselves.
Currently a handmade shawl worth Rs 1,000 attracts five per cent tax, while the ones costing more than Rs 1,000 are levelled with 12 per cent GST.
“Almost 95 per cent of our shawls cost more than Rs 1,000, which means that we have to pay 12 per cent GST. We have not been able to sell or transport our goods due to the GST,” he said.
“Luxury items like Pashmina and carpets attract 12 per cent GST. Our customers are not ready to pay the taxes at the time of purchasing.”
Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, another businessman, claims that wood carving too has suffered under this law.
“It attracts 18 per cent GST. We are not able to transport our stocks to outside branches due to the GST. And whatever is there is not sold during the last one year. The tax should be revoked for certain sectors during the GST council meet,” he said.
Former Finance Minsiter, Haseeb A Drabu last year said the centre had agreed to exemption of small time handicraft traders and cutting down GST rate of walnut to five percent from 12 to five per cent.
The valley business community, however, claims that the taxes under this law are collected as per the previous rule.
The traders fear that the implementation of these two different taxes will leave the entire handicraft sector in peril.
“The sector, which provided succour to thousands of families in Kashmir, is now at the verge of extinction. Already, it has been facing multiple problems and now 18 per cent tax will be imposed on job works and 12 per cent on sales. The sector will face a slow death,” said Sheikh Ashiq, a member Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC).
He said the export of the handicraft products, especially carpet, has declined since July1 throughout the state.
“The traders have brought down their exports since July 1, when GST was implemented in entire India. The CEPC, in its findings based on the feedback received from various carpet manufacturers and exporters associations across India, has found that a huge number of carpet units have been inoperative in Kashmir,” he said.
Delhi obsessed with Kashmiri Pandits, silent about Kashmir massacres: Rasheed
Srinagar, Jan 21: Paying rich tributes to the “martyrs” of Gawkadal massacre on their 28th anniversary, AIP President Er Rasheed said that Delhi and its institutions have failed to kill, humiliate and deny justice to Kashmiris has become the permanent interpretation of “nationalism and patriotism”.
In a statement issued here, Rasheed said that national media, politicians and a section of “pseudo-intellectuals with a communal mindset” have been often calling few unfortunate killings of Kashmiri Pandits at the hands of unknown persons as “genocide” but don’t speak even a word on Gawkadal massacre and other worst massacres which took place in every area of Kashmir at the hands of men in uniform.
The huge sacrifices offered by Kashmiris deserve a response within India and at the international level. The state has used its institutions and huge propaganda machinery to mislead the world community and create confusions about what Kashmiris stand for. The Gawkadal massacre reminds Delhi and the world community that after 29 years, the will, commitment and desire to get Jammu & Kashmir dispute resolved in accordance with UN resolutions have not only deepened but India is finding it difficult day by day to prove its narrative, Rasheed said.
Rasheed added that Kashmiris are not worried about the behaviour of New Delhi and are mature enough to understand that the colonial mind. However, the truth lies on the side of Kashmiris and they cannot compromise on their stand or surrender before the New Delhi.
NHM employees stage protest, demand regularisation
Srinagar, Jan 21: Employees of National Health Mission (NHM) on Monday staged a protest rally in Bandipora district of north Kashmir, demanding regularisation of their services.
Scores of the employees while shouting anti-governmental slogans held a protest rally from Hospital to mini secretariat Bandipora where they provided a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.
The protesting employees said that most of employees working in the department have passed half of the age but were not regularised till date. “Govt must take any action to regularise us now,” one of the protesting employee said.
According to the protesting employees, the government had promised them social security benefits but till date, there were no initiatives taken by the government in this regard.
The protesting employees said that government is violating the guidelines of Supreme Court by not paying the equal pay for equal work, adding that people with the same profession in Delhi and Haryana are being benefited fully but their counterparts in valley are not.
The protesters threatened of more protests if their demands are not fulfilled.
Anantnag’s Kothar residents protest to demand degree college
Srinagar, Jan 21: Scores of residents from Nowgam Kothar village of south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday staged a protest to express their dismay over government’s indifference and demanded for the establishment of Women’s Degree College in the area.
The residents including the senior citizens of the area assembled here at press enclave in Srinagar and raised slogans in favour of their demand.
Protesters carrying placards read “we want Degree College” and “we want Justice”.
The proposed college was first promised to the Shangus constituency but was later given to Chattisinghpora.
We were sure that the government would announce the college for their area said the protestors.
“In September 2018, when governor administration announced 40 colleges, we started the process. We completed all the formalities and were sure that college would be allotted,” said a protestor Mushtaq Ahamd.
“Our girls are forced to seek admission far from the home, either in colleges at Anantnag or in Srinagar. It is very hectic for them to travel long distances to reach to their colleges. It is not only expensive, but time consuming as well,” another protestor Bashir Ahmad said.
The protestors said that they would launch a full-fledged agitation to ensure that the government sanctions college in their favour.
“We would hit streets regularly to lodge our protest. We urge authorities to allot the college at an earliest or else be prepared for the consequences,” warned Bashir Mir.
“Any law and order problem arising out of our protests would directly be the responsibility of the government if it does not address our genuine concern immediately,” Mir added.
“We did everything that was required as far as official formalities are concerned. We met Advisor to the Governor, Khurshid Ganie. Later on we even sent the documents to the governor. We fail to understand as to why the authorities have not allotted the college. All the assurances provided to us proved futile,” the protesting residents said.
The Nowgam Kothar area comprises of 1041 households with no degree college. As per the locals, the said area has all the feasibilities required for the establishment of a college including land. “The college was not still allotted to us rather was given to a less feasible area,” the aggrieved protesters said.
Protestors appealed Governor Satya Pal Malik to look into the matter and fulfil their demand at an earliest.