National Conference Thursday expressed serious concern over the 'continuous indifference of both state and central governments' towards the plight of artisans, carpet workers, shawl embroidery workers, wood carvers and other skilled, semi skilled workers following the imposition of GST in J&K.
The party demanded that the government initiates process of declaring handicrafts and other allied sectors GST exempted.
Criticising the PDP BJP government over what he called 'its inability and inaction to make handicrafts and allied sectors GST free', NC Provincial Spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar, in a written statement, said, "Is the government blind not to see how following imposition of GST in our state, livelihoods of lakhs of poor artisans have been ruined? Many have been brought to the brink of starvation. The situation is such that the children of artisans and handicraft workers have left studies and are now forced to do manual labour."
"It is a criminal apathy that the sector which till date had always been tax free is levied with heavy illogical and unjustified taxes thereby heralding the death of this sector," Dar said, adding, "PDP BJP government is hell bent on bringing the crowning glory of J&K to its last throes."
"It's ridiculous that the GST council which recently slashed GST rates from certain food items in Gujarat feels the need of imposing a tax of 28 percent on carved walnut furniture and goods, 12 percent on hand woven carpets and even brought the small time handicraft shawl vendors under the draconian tax regime," the spokesperson said adding, "It's really unfortunate that the government has not been able to understand the ground realities of Kashmir and its produce. Moreover state government's failure in convincing the union ministry of giving tax concessions to these sectors, artisans is, to say the least, criminal."
"The state FM as usual did only one thing that he is good at – create hype over his meeting with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The entire outcome of the meeting was that GST on walnuts was slashed with no respite to other major handicraft sectors," Dar said.
The party spokesperson said that the state finance minister was in dire need of understanding and acknowledging Kashmir's socio economic realities. "We have been saying this from day first when this draconian tax regime was implemented all over the country that there are certain sectors which needs solo unflinching focus of the concerned, handicraft sector being the primary among them."