They have argued that the namkeens are consumed by the common man and are produced by a labour-intensive industry that provides employment to a large number of skilled and unskilled personnel and should attract lower taxes.
Namkeens have been placed in the 12 per cent taxation slab in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime which is to come into effect from July 1.
The manufacturers and sellers, under the banner of the Akhil Bhartiya Khadya Mishthan Namkeen Vikreta Mahamandal (All-India Sweets & Namkeens Sellers Federation), welcomed the GST Council's decision to tax sweets at five per cent — and requested that the same rate of taxation be applied to namkeens — salties — also.
Federation Patron Shyam Sunder Aggarwal pointed out that under the indirect tax regime, namkeens -- snacks, samosa, kachori, pakoda, chaat, tikki, bhalla, papdi, gol-gappa, dhokla etc. -- were exempted from the central excise duty and levied a concessional rate of 5 per cent of VAT by a majority of states. "This same rate may be ratained for namkeens in the new regime also," he urged.
Aggarwal said the next meeting of the GST Council here on June 18 should consider positively the sweets and namkeens industry's demand and lower the applicable GST on namkeens to 5 per cent.
He observed that namkeens are consumed by the country's masses and any increase in indirect tax rates from the existing 5 per cent to 12 per cent would lead to increased pricing for the end-customer which, in turn, would lead to making the products out of reach of the common man.
The industry has been able to safeguard Indian tradition both in India and overseas and ensure manufacturing of such products in spite of intense competition faced by them from products imported/ manufactured by multi-national companies, he said.
The industry also helps in earning a significant export revenue for the country as Indian namkeens are consumed both within India and outside India, he added.
The Halwais, Bakers & Restaurants Association (HBRA), in a separate memorandum, also urged the Delhi government to look into their demand for retaining the five per cent levy on namkeens under the GST regime.