Agra's Leather Industry Hit Hard By GST, Say Traders, Workers

Residents of Agra's Kazi Bada, a leather makers' neighbourhood in Agra, complained of far less work compared to last Diwali.

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Leather industry workers in Agra say GST has hit prices of their materials and products.


Agra:  The Goods and Services Tax or GST may have been hailed as India's biggest tax reform since Independence but for labourers, manufacturers and retailers who work in Agra's famed leather industry, the implementation of the new tax has meant a sharp drop in business.

According to Dharmendra Soni, a shoe manufacturer and factory owner in Agra, his business has taken a hit of 75 to 80 percent since the GST was implemented.

"I had to shut down one of my two factories because of the slowdown in business," said Mr Soni. "I used to hire 50 weekly wage workers, now 20 are enough."

Residents of Agra's Kazi Bada, a leather makers' neighbourhood, also complained of far less work compared to last Diwali.

"Earlier we worked six days a week. Now, today is Thursday and it is just the second day I have worked," said a worker in a small leather factory. "We used to earn Rs 300 a day which was enough to cover our family's expenses. Now we don't even know if we'll make Rs 50," he said.

Raj Kumar, another worker in the same factory, accused the central government of being against the poor.

"We're ruined because of the GST," said Mr Kumar. "The owner will only give us work when he gets work himself," he said.

Retailers too are feeling the pinch. Hemant Kumar, a supplier of footwear making machinery, said business for retailers and equipment suppliers has halved.

"The customers are feeling the impact of high prices, there is pressure on manufacturers too because machines, raw material, everything is more expensive," said Mr Kumar.


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