Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah supports demand for GST exemption on rural goods 

imagesKarnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah endorsed the cause of the rural sector by writing to finance minister Arun Jaitley supporting the demand of an ongoing agitation seeking removal of GST on all goods manufactured in the rural areas essentially by the cooperatives sector. 

His letter comes just a day after former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, his mentor-turned-foe, strongly expressed support for the demand made by an agitation of the Grama Seva Sangh (GSS) spearheaded by theatre person and activist Prasanna. Gowda, who called on Prasanna on Wednesday, strongly urged the activist to give up his indefinite fast that ended on Thursday with the CM’s letter and assurance of support. 

The movement against GST on handmade goods has been on for the last three months, with traders and sellers in several places refusing to pay the tax as a form of satyagraha. Conventions and interactive sessions with the rural sector have been held in several places across Karnataka. 

The agitation has been gaining ground and has also had strong political tones, particularly as Karnataka is preparing to face elections in seven months time. A 20 km padayatra was done from Jinjappanagudde in Tumakuru district to Kasturba Ashram in Arasikere of Hassan district to raise awareness of the seriousness of the issue in the rural areas. 

Prasanna, whose six-day fast has been supported by several intellectuals, progressive religious leaders and activists including Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha, Prakash Rai, T M Krishna, M S Sathyu and Veerabhadra Chennamalla Swami of the Nidumamidi mutt, told ET: “I have ended my fast, but the tax-denial satyagraha will continue until the GST Council meeting on November 5. We will decide our future course of action after that.” 

Siddaramaiah, in his letter to Jaitley, quoted a representation to the Karnataka government given by the GSS, where a committee headed by social scientist Ashish Nandy has given a definition of what is a “handmade” product and listed a range of them from handmade butter to handmade paper. He also endorses the demand to raise the GST exemption limit for individuals and self-help groups making handmade products to cover a turnover of Rs 50 lakh. 

“This representation requires serious and urgent consideration and resolution,” the letter says, adding: “This would not only benefit a large segment of our rural population but would also give a boost to rural employment and sustainability. I, therefore, urge you to take this issue on a priority basis in the next GST council and decide favourably, benefitting rural artisans. I assure you of the government of Karnataka’s full support in this regard.” 

Read More: Economic Times


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