On eve of Arun Jaitley’s visit to Ludhiana, city plywood traders observe day-long strike

Ahead of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to the city on Saturday, the plywood industry in Punjab observed a daylong strike on Friday, while the sewing machine industry has threatened to gherao him during his visit.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Published:July 15, 2017 9:53 am
punjab, Punjab Plywood Manufacturers Association, plywood, plywood manufacturing, indian express news Plywood traders protest in Ludhiana. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Ahead of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s visit to the city on Saturday, the plywood industry in Punjab observed a daylong strike on Friday, while the sewing machine industry has threatened to gherao him during his visit.

The minister will be visiting Ludhiana on Saturday.

Punjab Plywood Manufacturers Association (PPMA) chairman Ashok Juneja said, “All the 300 units of Punjab have shut down their operations today as we want GST on plywood to be kept at 18 per cent instead of the existing 28 per cent. Tomorrow, we will be meeting the Union Finance Minister during his Ludhiana visit.”

“Plywood is not a luxury item. Plywood furniture is used by one and all, depending upon one’s pocket. Everyone needs some furniture in their house. We have been requesting Jaitley for long. But as our representations went unheeded, we observed a one-day complete bandh,” said Juneja.

“It seems using plywood-based material is a luxury for the Union government. Hence, they have put it under the 28 per cent slab. However, it is part of housing development and general development projects,” said Naresh Tewari, chairman of the All India Plywood Manufacturers Association.

“Tax slabs should be rationalised because as per past experience, higher the tax rate, higher the evasion is. Today, thousands of plywood units across the country are observing a shutdown,” said Juneja.

“We buy wood from farmers and hence support them. Our product is agri-based. We should not be taxed in the upper limit,” said PPMA president Inderjeet Singh Sohal.

Plywood traders said earlier they had to pay 14.30 per cent VAT while in additional 12 per cent central excise was levied on only those units which had a turnover of more than Rs 1.5 crore per annum. But now, everyone has come under the 28 per cent GST slab.

Sewing Machine Dealers Association wants the GST to be slashed to 12 per cent instead of the existing 18 per cent.

‘Make in India may take a hit’

Electronics spare parts manufacturers are also upset over GST implementation. These spare parts are part of the Make in India campaign but a number of them have come under the 28 per cent slab, thus hitting the business hard.

Mohinder Aggarwal, general secretary of Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal and an electronics parts trader, said, “A number of products such as switch mode power supply, toggle switches, general switches have come under the 28 per cent GST slab. These are not luxury items. They are needed in every household. Earlier, we were under 14 per cent tax net in Punjab. This step is likely to hit the Make in India campaign as people would prefer to import cheaper qualities from outside rather than pay more tax. The government needs to relook into this.”

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