Surat: Textile Traders in Ahmedabad have been on a rally and an indefinite strike since the GST has been implemented from July 1, 2017, with a demand to roll back the decision to impose GST on unstitched clothes. As much as 50,000 textile traders in the textile industry have participated till now in the outcry over the imposition of GST on the fabric.
The strike has been indefinite since the GST was implemented from July 1, 2017 with the exception of one day as a mark of condolence and respect for people who died in the terrorist attack on Amarnath Yatra.
The traders in the wholesale and retail market of Surat feel that if the textile market comes under the purview of GST, then that would lead to the revival of the bad old days of Inspector Raj and harassment in their métier. Due to this, there has been a strong wave of dissent and the mass rally has left thousands of labourers working in the processing units jobless in the industry. The textile industry is considered the second largest employment sector in India today.
Due to the implementation of GST, the textile weavers i.e. the yarn manufacturers are supposed to pay 18% tax on the man-made fibre/yarn/cotton, 5% on the power loom units. 5% GST has also been imposed on traders and 5% on dyeing and printing of the units. This has left the textile workers stranded for work as the power loom owners mull over the rise of the manufacturing cost, which they feel would be hard to set off against the tax on products. A particular power loom manufacturer weaves the cloth, which is then sold to the traders who send it ahead to the units for dyeing and printing to the processing unit.
This is a big market in Surat with nearly 9 lakh power looms and 350 processing units having a daily turnover of as much as ₹ 90 crores. As the traders are on a strike, the demand has gone down leading to huge inventories, thus forcing the weavers to shut down the power looms.
The textile industry of Surat has been known to manufacture and supply the cheapest saris, the lowest below the range of ₹ 70. With the GST being imposed, the cost of saris has gone up. An average sari costing ₹ 200- ₹ 250 is now worth ₹ 350- ₹ 400.
Though there could be a slight difference in opinion being observed as some textile traders tried to open their shops as they felt this was causing high loss to their business. These sporadic or patchy efforts to open the shops led to no success even though the police backed them up as a majority of the traders were determined to be kept out of the GST regime and continued the rallies.
The TVB (Textile Yuva Brigade) visited all major textile markets on ring road informing everyone that they would roster strong agitation against the shop owners who wanted to open their shops using the police protection.
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