Arun Jaitley assures textile traders of resolving GST procedural issues
In what is seen as appeasement of textile sector ahead of Gujarat assembly elections, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley has assured city's textile community his determination to resolve the procedural issues under Goods and Services Tax (GST). Faced with continuous protests by textile traders, local BJP leaders organized an interactive meeting of Jaitley and stakeholders of textile industry here on Sunday. Jaitley offered to depute senior tax authorities from New Delhi to resolve procedural and technical issues relating to GST. Jaitley spent more than an hour with the stakeholders of the MMF sector and discussed GST issues at length during his maiden visit to the Diamond City. Though Jaitley refrained from giving any promise, he said the government was determined to resolve procedural and technical issues under GST. The meeting was attended by all the key leaders and representatives of powerloom weavers, textile traders and textile processors. Earlier, the textile industry has witnessed widespread protests after the GST was rolled out on July 1. During the month-long agitation, which witnessed a 20-day long indefinite strike by 65,000 textile traders in the city, the traders had criticized Jaitley for imposing 5 per cent GST on MMF fabric. The traders in all their rallies would chant slogans like 'GST ko hatana hai, Arun Jaitley hai hai, vyapari ekta jindabad'. Jaitley flew back to New Delhi after attending the interaction meeting with textile leaders. Interacting with the textile stakeholders, Jaitley said, "I invite a group of textile industry leaders with collective representation from the industry to New Delhi. Senior tax authorities will be deputed to sort out the procedural issues." On the issue of e-way bill, Jaitely said, "The government is working on launching the national E-way bill between January 1, 2018 to March 31,2018. The national e-way bill will allow the traders to send their goods to any part of the country, without any procedural problems." Jaitley said compared to European countries, India has settled at a much faster pace as far as GST's implementation is concerned. "There are short-term challenges, which the government is committed to resolve. We are not changing decisions in GST, but are rationalizing the entire process." "The textile sector in Surat and other sectors in different states are the growth engine of the country. Our vision is to minimize the interface of assesses with the taxation department, like we have done in Income Tax. You can't expect India to go as one-rate nation like Singapore, because we cant have one rate on soap and Mercedes," Jaitley said. Talking about GST roadmap, Jaitley said, "It is our vision to have only two tax slabs in future. Like we have removed, not completely, the 28 per cent slab, we will have only two slabs. Also, we want to rationalize our taxes with increase in revenue." During the question session, Federation of Surat Textile Traders' Association (FOSTTA) president Manoj Agarwal presented GST issues faced by textile traders to Jaitley. Agarwal said, "Though GST Council has given relief to textile sector, but the traders are not happy. Our business is down by almost 60 per cent in the last few months due to GST. We have been facing procedural issues, which need to be sorted out at the earliest. The issues include quarterly filing of GST returns, abolition of reserve charge mechanism (RCM) and ITC-04. A sari or dress material passes through 15 different processes and at each process we have to pay GST." Kailash Dhut, a textile trader, said, "First of all the government needs to work on resolving the technical glitches in the GST portal and till then all penalties for late filing of GST returns should be waived off."