Kerala is headed for a poultry strike from Monday as talks between poultry traders and the state finance minister on rationalising chicken prices post-GST failed. Finance Minister Dr. T. M. Thomas Isaac is firm on the stand that prices cannot exceed Rs 87 per kilogram, however the Poultry Federation is not willing to sell below Rs 100. With the standoff continuing, the Federation representatives announced that all chicken stalls in the state will be closed for an indefinite period from Monday.
The Minister had asked the federation to stick to the Rs 87 per kilogram price point for at least a week, but the traders showed no signs of accepting the offer. The minister reportedly told the traders’ body that while GST brought down taxes by 14 per cent, the traders ended up increasing prices by Rs 40 per kilogram. He said the rates where being manipulated by monopolistic companies that control the import of chicken into Kerala from other states.
Members of the Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samiti told The Times of India many of them are yet to complete the computerisation process. Traders can however sell their products stocked after GST at revised rate.
“We condemn the government’s move to portray traders as extortionist after launching GST without preparation,” district general secretary of KVVES K Sethumadhavan told TOI, adding that the inspection of legal metrology and commercial taxes departments are creating problems.
“Most traders are not well-educated and are unable to understand the provisions of GST by visiting the website,” he said, adding that officials, who conducted classes for traders, were unable to clear all the doubts. They also sought the reintroduction of commercial taxes check posts and ending the practice of allowing police and transport officials to inspect vehicles alleging corruption. KVVES state president T Nazuruddin said: “We want time to learn GST process.”
On Sunday, the Kerala Poultry Federation will meet and decide on the future course of action. “It is not possible to accept the amount decided by the government. Poultry price hike will end in weeks after production stabilizes. If the government agrees to supply chicken at a lower rate, then we can accept the Rs 87/kg price,” said association president M Thajudeen.