Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has urged the Centre to exempt handmade products from the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax. In a letter to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley yesterday, Siddaramaiah said: “I am writing to raise a very critical issue that the GST council should take note of and decide on a priority basis.”
He said he has received representation from a committee constituted by Gram Seva Sangh, consisting of noted activists including Prof Ashis Nandy, Uzramma and Shyam Benegal, seeking exemption from GST for various handmade items produced and marketed by producer cooperative societies and their federations.
Siddaramaiah said that noted theatre activist Prasanna had undertaken a ‘satyagraha’ and hunger strike against GST on many handmade products for the past few days in Bengaluru.
The chief minister said imposition of GST on such products has had an adverse impact on the livelihood of artisans engaged in producing such products.
Referring to the representation, whose copy was attached with the letter to Jaitley, Siddaramaiah said, “The representation requires serious and urgent consideration and a positive resolution.”
“This would not only benefit a large segment of our rural population but would also give a boost to rural employment and sustainability,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prasanna, who was on an indefinite fast in the city for the past five days on the issue, called off his fast last evening.
A release from the NGO, Environment Support Group, which extended support to the protest, said Prasanna broke the fast following an “assurance” from Siddaramaiah that the state government would support the satyagraha’s demand for zero per cent GST on handmade products.
Prasanna had demanded total waiver of GST on handmade products, saying not doing so would cause the collapse of the rural economy.