Cloth merchants in the city continued their protests against the Goods and Services Tax (GST) even on its rollout day on Saturday, demanding the rollback of GST of 5% on cloth, which was not taxed earlier. Traders staged protests at at Jagraon bridge and even organised midnight protests in the Akal market area. Rajneesh Bhateja, vice-president of Punjab Wholesale Cloth Merchants Association, said, “Our protests will continue till GST is rolled back on cloth. There are over a crore of cloth merchants in India and none have taken GST number till now. On July 4, our association members will hold a meeting with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. We hope some relief will be announced.”
Cloth merchants say since those associated with embroidery, fabric painting etc. have also been brought under the GST net, they are going to face labour problem as workers involved in such jobs are wary of GST. Meanwhile, after the Friday midnight implementation of GST, markets in the city opened Saturday with hiked prices of many items. Narinder Singh, president of Punjab Halwai Association said, “Prices of all types of sweets have been raised by 5% and of namkeen and dry fruit by 12.5% as per the new tax structure. We have no choice but to pass on this tax to the customer.”
In the industrial area of the city, steel, used as raw material in bicycle and automobile industry, was also available at a hiked price. “With GST implemented, these effects are bound to come,” said Badish Jindal, president of Federation of Small industries Association.