Agra footwear industry disappointed with GST revisions
The GST Council meeting held on 6th October gave relief to the jewellery industry as well as several small-scale industries, but the Agra footwear industry has been kept off this list despite several representations by the industry to the Finance Ministry.
Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chamber President Puran Dawar and ex-chairman Nazeer Ahmed told India Today that the footwear industry in Agra employs over 3.5 lakh people of the city, but the GST council ignored this industry's valid demands.
Small-scale manufacturers of footwear have been disheartened as they were hoping that this time the GST council will definitely hear their pleas.
Puwar Dawar said that the GST refund provisions do give some relief but it is very disappointing that leather has still been kept in the 12 per cent slab instead of bringing it down to 5 percent.
Nazeer Ahmed said that the leather goods have also been kept in 28 per cent slab, which should have been kept at 12 per cent as demanded by the industry. He said that excessive taxation is killing the motive with which the GST had been brought into effect. He demanded to know if the government considered simple things, like shoes, a luxury item?
A National Chamber of Industries and Commerce member said that the footwear industry needs more rebates in view of the competitive atmosphere globally. If promoted properly, the footwear industry alone could generate millions of new jobs and also earn foreign exchange in the process.
Nazim Qureshi, owner of a small-scale domestic footwear factory demanded that footwear upto Rs. 500 should be kept tax free as this was the range in which the poor and underprivileged people bought shoes.
For shoes priced higher than this, the tax could be 5 percent, but not more, otherwise the demand for leather footwear will drop in the domestic market and it will, in turn, cause a loss of revenue to the government.
When India Today contacted the office bearers of Agra Vyapar Mandal for their reactions on the GST council's latest slew of rebates, they said that these rebates were more like 'Oont ke muh mein jeera'. Govind Agrawal, a member of the Vyapar Mandal said that the government has reduced GST on plastic, e-waste, rubber etc., whereas the real need of the common man was the reduction in GST on shoes, diesel engine parts, clothes etc.
Apart from this, medicines should also have been brought under minimum GST slab as the government itself claims to be on a mission of making a healthy India, but healthy India could hardly be possible if medicines were taxed so heavily.
They demanded that the luxury items should be taxed at a maximum of 18 per cent, while daily necessities should be brought under minimum taxation.
Bhartiya Muslim Vikas Parishad Chairman Sami Aghai said that the 'backtracking' of the Modi government on the matter of GST is only due to the forthcoming elections in Gujarat and the Lok Sabha elections that will arrive in 2019.
"The intention with which these tax-rebates have been announced is malafide at best and the people should not be misled into thinking that PM Modi thinks about the welfare of the people. He's filling the government's coffers with tax money through arbitrarily raised taxes because he drained the same coffers due to his failed economic policies and bled the country's financial might dry through demonetisation. By announcing these rebates, Modi thinks that he will be successful in bringing back the supporters he has lost in the past couple of years, but this is not going to happen and Modi may be looking at a tough fight in Gujarat elections this year."