Gujarat cloth markets shut on day 2 of stir against GST


Textile merchants of Gujarat shut their shops for the second day today as part of a three-day strike against five per cent GST even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares to visit the state to inaugurate a textile event on June 30.

Cloth markets in major Gujarat cities, including Surat, Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar and Rajkot, remained shut in protest against five per cent GST on textiles.

The merchants will decide on extending the stir after GST Council’s last meeting on June 30.

“The three-day protest ends on June 29 before the GST Council meets for the last time on June 30. If the council does not decide on scrapping the five per cent GST on textiles, we will extend our protest,” said GST Sangharsh Samiti president Champalal Bodhra.

Incidentally, on June 30, the prime minister will inaugurate ‘Textile India 2017’- a four-day mega fair – at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The fair will attract around 1,500 exhibitors from the country and abroad.

The strike is unlikely to affect the fair as some protesting merchants who bought stalls for the event over a month back will continue to participate, said Gaurang Bhagat, president of Maskati Kapad Mahajan, a body of cloth traders in Ahmedabad.

“It is an international event and we do not want to send across any wrong message by boycotting the event. Some traders who have bought space for the fair will remain present there,” he said.

“Textile sector was never levied any kind of tax, be it service tax, VAT or Excise, so GST makes no sense. Also, the traders have been given no training about GST and penalty and punishment for non-compliance is harsh and frightening for them,” Bhagat said.

He said cloth merchants were not given enough time for GST compliance, and only a few traders have so far registered on GST network.

“We will meet commercial tax commissioner P D Vaghela today with a memorandum of our demands. Some of the members met Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel yesterday who assured that he will try to resolve the issue,” he claimed.

Bhagat further said earlier Patel had assured them that efforts were on to resolve the issue with the GST Council.

Meanwhile in Mumbai, nearly 15,000 textile traders at Mulji Jetha market, Swadeshi Bazaar and Mangaldas market kept their shops shut for the second day today as part of the strike.

“The implementation of GST will be a big harassment for the trading community. We ask the government to roll back the GST or extend the time period for its implementation,” Vijay Maru, a textile trader at Kalba Devi in Mumbai, told PTI.


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