Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 15
City-based textile manufacturers and markets today rolled down the shutters of their factories, shops and markets to convey their resentment against the Union government’s decision to impose goods and services tax (GST).
Wholesale sales area like Shastri market, Cash Dhara bazaar, Katra Ahluwalia, retail market Katra Jai Mal Singh and adjoining cloth markets also remained closed today. Similarly, factories in different parts of the city also remained locked to protest against the government’s decision.
Once called the Manchester of India, the textile industry in the holy city is grappling with a myriad problems like cost and quality competitive market following global competition, rising cost of raw material, changing dynamics of manufacturing technology and others. Office-bearers of Shastri Market cloth dealers association, including Jagdish Arora, Deepak Mehra and Ginni Bhatia said the textile sector looks at a spate of taxes under the proposed GST regime.
They elaborated that cotton and natural yarn, which was not covered under the excise tax, will be charged 5 per cent GST and man-made yarn at 18 per cent. Similarly, cloth will also be taxed at 5 per cent GST. In addition, apparel and ready-made garments, with value less than Rs 1,000, will be charged 5 per cent and apparel valued at over Rs 1,000, 12 per cent.
They said the spate of taxes imposed on the textile sector will turn ready-made and other garments into the costly goods category. They feared that these taxes would put the apparels in the category of luxurious goods. Bhatia said the city was once known as the ‘Manchester of India’ for its famed textile units. A number of big units were running from Chheharta to Khasa stretch. However, at present, only some noticeable brands remain. According to Bhatia, the lopsided policies of successive governments have hit the city’s textile industry. For instance, he recalled that different excise tax slabs for ‘composite’ and ‘independent’ units, too, led to the downfall, as the overhead costs climbed.
The non-disbursal of timely subsidy resulted in a decline in the financial condition of many companies, which ended with their bankruptcy, he said. The opening of the Indian economy in the early 1990s and consequent arrival of similar material from different parts of the world, especially textile goods from China and Korea, proved to be the proverbial last nail in the coffin. Flourishing textile industry encouraged the birth of various ancillary industries. Processing and dyeing industry was one of them. The number of units has now come down from over 100 to nearly 30 here.
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