The National Commission for Women (NCW) will urge the PMO to step in to address the concerns of women farmers regarding increase of tax under the GST regime, its chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam said on Tuesday. Several women farmer leaders are here to participate in the national consultation on rights of women farmers being organised by the NCW and UN Women.
“The way GST is framed it needs a re-look for women farmers. The prime minister has recently spoken about doubling farmers’ income but to make that happen we need a reform in our policies. We will raise these concerns with the PMO,” the NCW chairperson said in response to several issues raised by the farmers.
Suneeta Kashyap from Ranikhet in Uttarakhand explained how GST has led to three-fold increase in tax liabilities for farm producers.
She leads the Mahila Umang Producers Company, which has more than 1,000 women farmers as members. The company has an annual turnover of Rs 1.5 crore.
Many others spoke about how lack of land ownership by women often means that they are excluded from government schemes.
“Sales tax on our woollen products has gone up from zero to 12 per cent and on items such as jam, the tax has gone up from five to 12 per cent. While last year we paid Rs 3.8 lakh in taxes, after GST this is likely to increase to Rs 10.87 lakh,” Kashyap said.
“We are self-sustained and do not rely on the government for aid but we also don’t want exorbitant taxes,” she said.
Tillers attending the event complained that government insurance schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana does not cater to those who grow millets as a subsistence crop but is meant only for cash crop cultivators, thereby excluding a majority of farmers from its benefits.