Sankar Das, 31, a third generation artisan, who lives in Guwahati, is struggling to keep the traditional craft alive and the GST has made it harder for him.
"Raw material is expensive, wages of workers have increased, business has gone down and we have not registered for GST as the process seems cumbersome," said Mr Das.
He is flagging the concerns of at least four lakh artisans in the state. As raw bamboo and cane are taxed at 5% after GST, and finished products climb the 12% to 28% bracket, there are hardly any buyers left, he said.
"Sales are down by 50%. After we offered huge discounts for Diwali, sales have picked, but it will be the same story after the festivals," said IA Lashkar, Deputy Manager of Purbashree, a government of India enterprise.
Handicrafts industry is not just a business, it's part of the Assamese culture. The skill is dying, unable to complete with machine-made and foreign products and the government must take steps to preserve the culture and offer relief to encourage production, say artist collectives.
"It is severely affecting employment. So many small entrepreneurs in this sector have shut shop in the last three months," said NN Rana Patgiri, managing director, Bodoland Regional Apex Weavers & Artisans Cooperative Federation Ltd. (BRAWFED), an organisation for the development of handicrafts and handbook in the bodoland region of Assam.
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