Threatening to launch an agitation, traders of Jammu today criticised the Centre for its recently announced incentive scheme under the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime.
They said "if the scheme is not revisited, it will serve as a death knell for majority of nearly 10,000 units in Jammu and Kashmir and render lakhs of people jobless".
The traders also sought intervention of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and threatened to hit the streets "if the promises made to them prior to the implementation of the GST regime in the state were not fulfilled".
"The most awaited policy of the central government, which was issued through a notification on October 5 under budgetary support for incentives under the GST, is nothing but a cruel joke with the industrialists in Jammu and Kashmir. It is in fact deniable of incentives, "leaders of Federation of Industries (FOI), an amalgam of various associations and industrial fraternity, told reporters here.
The press conference was addressed by co-chairman of Federation of Industries Jammu (FoIJ) Vijay Aggarwal and General Secretary of Kathua Industrial Units Association Sandeep Mittal.
Representatives of Bari Brahmana Industries Association and Association of Chamber of Commerce and industries were also present.
In July this year, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the industries in J&K, the north eastern states and other Himalayan states would continue to get tax exemption till March 2027, albeit as refund, under the GST regime which was rolled out on July 1.
"Within the framework of the GST Act, each industry will be entitled to its own refund mechanism during this particular period (March 31, 2027)," Jaitley had said.
Industries in the north eastern and Himalayan states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand under the previous excise regime used to get 10-year exemption, he said.
Further elaborating his point, Mittal said, "Under the latest policy, a negligible incentive will come. We will get only 10 to 15 per cent of the incentives which we used to get under the previous policy framed in 2002 which enabled the growth of the industrial units in the state."
"We request the Chief Minister to intervene into the matter and take up the issue with the Prime Minister and Union Finance Minister for the amendment in the notification with a request to lead the delegation of stakeholders for an urgent meeting at Delhi to resolve the issue," Aggarwal said.
He said the FOIJ also requests the Chief Minister, state finance minister and industries minister to issue the state notification as early as possible for the extension of state fiscal incentives which would provide a relief to industrial units of the state.
Aggarwal said if the promises made to them by the Centre and state government prior to the implementation of the GST in the state were not fulfilled, "we will be left with no choice but to take to streets" to press for the demands.
"My request to the Centre and state government is that the commitments made to us be implemented in true spirit, otherwise the bustling industrial estates will wore a deserted look," he said.
If the Centre did fails to have a relook into its industrial policy for the state and the state government does not come out with a package on its own, the industry would be left with no other option other than calling it a day, he said, adding "we welcomed the GST but for us it has become a bad dream and a headache".
He said, "We out-rightly reject the notification and condemn it. It is a cruel joke with the industry and will be seen as a conspiracy to close down the industrial sector in the state."
"People linked to the industry are feeling betrayed. We know the state government was doing its best and we too cooperated with it," Aggarwal said demanding revival of 2002 industrial policy to pave way for growth and development of industry and the state.
He said they have been promised by the Centre and state that under the GST regime, they will get more what they used to get under the previous policy.
"The central notification has broken our back," he said and questioned why an investor from outside the state will come here if the incentives are gone. Listing various demands, he said calculation of incentive benefit has been fixed on the basis of cash ledger payment after utilisation of input tax credit of central tax and integrated tax.
"The same is different from the refund or benefit availment method in erstwhile notification wherein the refund was sanctioned on lower of gross duty and cash Personal ledger Account (PLA) payment. The same will cost industry significantly in terms of revenue unless the same is re- calibrated and refund fixed on the basis of transaction value," he added.