GST Is Damaging Assam's Ailing Handicrafts Industry, Say Artisans

Many businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, are struggling with the transition as well as complications such as getting refunds under the GST

238 Shares
EMAIL
PRINT
COMMENTS

Rsing transport costs and cheaper Chinese products have only added to their worries.


Guwahati:  After machine-made alternatives and cheaper Chinese products hurt the cane and bamboo handicrafts industry in Assam, the artisans have a new worry -- the Goods and Services Tax (GST).  They claim they are already suffering huge losses and now the GST seems to be "pushing the cottage industry towards near extinction".

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.
 
assam handicrafts gst

Handicrafts industry is not just a business, it's part of the Assamese culture.

The GST, which was introduced on July 1, subsumed all levies charged by the Centre and states. However, three months later, many businesses, particularly small and medium-sized ones, are struggling with the transition as well as complications such as getting refunds under the GST. The rising transport costs and cheaper Chinese products have only added to their worries.

"We can't understand the logic behind high GST. We are unable to compete with the Chinese furniture," Naveen Sood, secretary, Assam Handicraft Manufacturers Association told NDTV.

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.


Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.

NDTV Beeps - your daily newsletter

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................