Textile ministry to take up Kashmir handicrafts issue with GST Council

Textile ministry to take up Kashmir handicrafts issue with GST Council

Central schemes to revive Kashmir art on the anvil

The  Union Ministry of Textiles will be taking up the issue of bringing down tax rate of Kashmiri handicrafts under Goods and Services Tax (GST) with the GST Council soon, said Shantamanu, Development Commissioner Handicrafts, Union ministry of textiles.

Addressing a seminar on Kashmir art and craft organised by Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday, Shantamanu highlighted various central government schemes aimed at revival of Kashmiri handicrafts. 

He was informed by local artisans that presently levied 12 per cent GST on handicrafts has affected this trade badly resulting in its further decline.  

“The issue of GST on handicrafts is lying with the GST Council. Although the last state finance minister had pressed for bringing down GST rates on Kashmir handicrafts but a lot more needs to be done The concerned adviser to the Governor must take it up with the Council in the next meeting. I will also  put it across through our ministry to the GST council,” said Shantamanu. 

The development commissioner of Ministry of Textiles while interacting with local artisans and exporters said that the issue of refund of GST on raw-material for handicrafts which has not been made by the government to the artisans will be addressed.

Shantamanu said in order to provide a boost to shawls and carpet industry, raw material bank for pashmina and silk which has seen a decline in the Valley, will be soon enhanced. 

“I have been told by many artisans here that raw material bank has not been successful due to lackluster policies. We will be exploring newer raw material markets in the country and enhancing the raw material bank here,” Shantamanu said.  

While responding to queries from exporters about the impact on Kashmir art due to prevailing downturn in European markets, Shantamanu said a study-group will be formed to undertake a survey on new and promising export markets for the Kashmir handicrafts. “ Apart from CEPC reports on emerging markets for handicrafts we don’t have many details of potential markets. Soon we will form a study group to identify potential markets for which exporters have an important role to play,” Shantamanu said. 

He said several schemes under Government of India will be highlighted adding that the Ministry of Textiles is planning to hold a series of enrollment and awareness programmes for artisans in  the Valley.

“At present 1 lakh artisans in Kashmir have the skill identification card with them but we want to enroll maximum number of artisans for which we will be holding enrollment camps soon,” Shantamanu said. The development commissioner said several events will be held in the Valley for the artisans for their skill upgradation. 

“We provide a free toll kit to artisans and also financial support, marketing. For providing artisans with space at haats and exhibitions outside the Valley, we would urge them to form self-help groups and then showcase their crafts for sale,” Shantamanu said.  

“I agree with artisans that apart from providing them a platform in central government set-ups and emporiums, we also need to explore untapped markets such as USA. I am the chairman of Central Cottage Emporium and will be keen to open it up for Kashmir handicrafts,” Shantamanu said.  

Syed Abid  Rasheed Shah, Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar said handicraft was the identity of the Valley which needs to be preserved.  

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Ashiq put forth proposals for market access schemes be extended to KCCI . He demanded raw material bank for silk be enhanced to  cater the president demand.  

Zubair Iqbal of HDFC Bank said that the bank has already given Rs 250 crore loans to MSME and handicraft Sector in J&K. 

Zubair Ahmad,  Director, IICT informed the audience  about the testing  Lab already functioning at  Baghi Ali Mardan Khan, Srinagar. 

Mushtaq Ahmad of Handicraft Department highlighted awareness  about the schemes available with the Handicraft Department.