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Traders pray for GST exemption to handicrafts sector

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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.


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Sajad alleges NC, PDP of drifting towards power at cost of Art-35 A

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Srinagar, May 21: Peoples Conference Chairman Sajad Gani Lone Tuesday castigated the twin traditional parties for trivializing the sentiments of the people of Kashmir and their inherent tendency to lie to suit their interests.
Sajad said the moral pretense of NC and PDP, the high stentorian rhetoric of Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti stands ridiculed today.
“You boycotted the ULB elections and termed it as a ‘sham’ election under the fig leaf of Article 35-A. Just answer one question. How seriously would New Delhi take you given that the theatre both of you enacted prior to the ULB polls. Those assertions of aspirations, those assertions of boycott to safeguard article 35 A- was that all a sham? Were you all along lying. We just pray that Delhi does not take your non seriousness about Art 35 A as a reference point. Your covert participation and now overt acceptance makes mockery of the cause that you were supposedly advocating—God save us all from advocates as murky as you”, he added.
Sajad said that both parties are now drifting towards power at the cost of the cause that they were purportedly advocating.
“This is a section of the Kashmiri leadership which was in headlines all across the country for boycotting the ULB polls—now it transpires that on one hand an avowed boycott and on the other a lust for power. The national leadership today has a good idea about the seriousness of these leaders and their tantalizing lust for power—they today know they would sleep with the devil for the sake of power and would sacrifice and belittle any cause that they advocate”, he added.
Sajad emphasized that Peoples Conference has a clear and simple majority in the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and will continue to deliver on its promises of delivering change in a city that has been neglected by the twin traditional parties.
“Both the traditional mainstream parties need to see the writing on the wall- that Srinagar is changing and taking strides towards hope and positivity under an overarching goal of self empowerment and accountability. PC Mayor and Deputy Mayor as well as all our Corporators will continue to play a very positive and enabling role in the SMC and will deliver effective change on the ground and try to transform Srinagar into a world class tourist city”, he added.

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High prices force Kashmiris to purchase lesser dates this Ramadan

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Srinagar, May 21 : Unlike previous years, the prices of dates have increased in the Kashmir markets in the ensuing holy month of Ramadhan, thanks to the major decrease in supply mostly due to suspension of cross LoC trade. The soaring prices of dates have forced the people of Kashmir to go for the less purchase of dates.
Bashir Ahmad Sheikh, a wholesale dealer of dates explained that less arrival of dates this year was responsible for the prices to increase by 15 to 20 per cent. “Kashmir has recorded the arrival of less date as compared to same time last year mostly due to suspension of cross LoC trade. Almost 20- 30 per cent decrease in arrival has caused the prices to go up” said Sheikh.
According to traders, prices of non-branded as well as branded dates have increased by at least 15-20 in the local markets. While last year one kilogram of unbranded dates was sold at Rs 90- Rs 100, this year it is sold at Rs 150- Rs 200, said the traders.
Farooq Dagga, a dates’ merchant told KNO that there has been some impact due to levy of 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax on the market prices of dates for last couple of years. “While there is almost increase of Rs 20 – Rs 30 per kg due to GST, dates which used to arrive through LoC trade mostly in form of dry low priced dates is witnessing a shortage,” said Dagga.
Even Ajwa dates, considered as pious and rich in medicinal value by Muslims across the world, priced anywhere between Rs 2000- Rs 2200 per kilogram in the local markets has seen an increase in prices. 40 plus varieties of dates that have arrived in Kashmir for Ramadhan this year which commenced on May 6 have seen an increase in prices proving to be a burden on common people.
Dates merchants at Parimpora fruit mandi said dates from Oman, Algeria, Iran and Iraq among other Muslim countries also find many buyers in the local market. These varieties which include Rabi, Razan, Kaas, Nawar, Jumar, Barari priced in the range of Rs 150 to Rs 2000 per kg have also seen an increase of 15 – 20 per cent, said another trader.

“Dates from Iraq and Pakistan used to find many takers in the local market but due to suspension of cross LoC trade there supplies have dried up. Even Israel exports dates across the world and this produce used to be also available in the Valley,” Muhammad Saleem Bhat, a fruit merchant told KNO.

 
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Congress remembers Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary

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Srinagar, May 21: The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) in a meeting of Senior Party Functionaries & Prominent Leaders remembered Former Prime Late Rajiv Gandhi on his 28th death anniversary and paid floral tributes to departed leader.
The party said that martyrdom of Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi would continue to lead the nation at the path of unity, harmony and development.
The meeting was presided over by J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) President G.A.Mir, who paid floral tributes to Rajiv Gandhi, recalling his selfless services and sacrifices to the Nation and said the departed leader shall always be remembered for the services he has rendered to people irrespective of their caste or religion.
Addressing the meeting, G.A Mir described Rajiv Gandhi as a tallest leader of the Country under whose leadership the Nation touched the new heights in respect of development, education, science and technology etc, there was no looking back after Rajiv Ji introduced Computer Education bringing the Nation at par with other developing countries in the world, he said.

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