merchants in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur, the four major markets in the country, observed a complete bandh to protest against the GST
rate of 12 per cent for dry fruits.
The Dry Fruits
and the Kirana Associations of Gujarat
observed a bandh on Thursday demanding a reversal of the GST rates
to the current tax
rate of 5 per cent. Hiteshbhai Pariyani, Chairman of Dry Fruits
Association said that while traders welcomed the GST
as this would regularise the trade across the country, they also felt that hiking the rate from 5 to 12 per cent would be detrimental for demand. At least 20-25 per cent demand impact is expected by the merchants.
All major trade associations across the country extended their support to the bandh and downed their shutters. All other associations of Dry Fruits
& Kirana merchants in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur and other important markets also observed a complete bandh.
alone accounts for around Rs 10,000 crore of business in dry fruits. Delhi
market accounts for 70 per cent of the country's trade. Merchants estimate that the total business of dry fruits
in India would be in excess of Rs 50,000 crore. India also imports nearly 50-60 per cent of the dry fruits
sold here. It attracts an import duty of over 30 per cent. However, throughout the country the tax
rate (VAT) on dry fruits
was more or less uniform, at 5 per cent, claim traders here.
Lalitbhai Shah, middle classVice Chairman of Kirana Associations, Gujarat said, "After several attempts to reach the authorities, we feel our voice hasn't been heard. Therefore, through this bandh, we want to draw the attention of the concerned authorities how the livelihood of many would be affected by this unfairly high rate. We want the government to review the proposed GST rate and make it nil or bring it down to 5 per cent at least."
Interestingly, the GST
Council, which met on Sunday, had lowered the rate on raw cashew nuts and cashew kernels to 5 per cent and it changed the rate to 12 per cent on value-added products such as roasted and salted cashews and flavoured cashews (from an earlier 18 per cent).
The merchants here were against such a partial revision of the GST rates
and alleged that raising rates
would dampen demand for dry fruits
like almonds, walnuts, etc .