TEXTILE TRADERS in the state kept their shutters down on Tuesday as part of the three-day nationwide strike in protest against Goods and Services Tax (GST) on fabrics. The traders are hopeful the strike will mount pressure on the government to roll back the five per cent GST on fabrics. The GST came into effect on July 1.
“We have called for a 72-hour strike from today. All textile shops will be closed till Thursday,” Arun Bhuwalka, President of Chamber of Textile Trade and Industry, told The Indian Express. Major textile markets such as Burrabazar witnessed a complete shutdown. All garment shops were shut.
Carrying placards, hundreds of textile traders in Burrabazar took out a rally, raising slogans against the Centre. Traders said their businesses have taken a hit since GST was implemented. They have decided to continue their agitation for an indefinite period if the government does not respond within three days.
“Textile industry is the second largest employment sector in the country. Weavers, technicians, daily labourers have badly been affected ever since GST has been imposed. Small tailors and karigars are going through a very tough time. Government kept petrol and diesel out of GST, why then was there a need to levy the new tax regime on clothes? Government should realise our problem and roll back its decision. Today, about 5,000 shops were closed,” Bijay Shankar Agarwal, Chairman of GST Opposition Committee of Calcutta Sari Dealers Association, told The Indian Express.
The on-and-off strikes against GST implementation have, however, affected labourers working in processing units and small textile factories. Several traders said they have incurred losses of crores of rupees due to these strikes. “With one strike after the other, old stocks have started piling up. On moral grounds, I support the strikes, but they are causing us huge losses. We are forced to keep our shops closed as we are doing business from here since the past several years,” said an owner of a sari showroom in Burrabazar.