PCC Prez slams Modi-govt. for GST on timber, anti-people policies

Port Blair
18 Feb 2018

A dharna was staged by Andaman Nicobar Pradesh Congress Committee in front of Chatham Saw Mill here on Saturday against imposition of GST on timber issued to local population for their own consumption and also the artisans involved in wood based industry.  Addressing the gathering, Mr Kuldeep Rai Sharma, PCC president   said that the idea behind introduction of GST (Goods and Services Tax) as one nation one tax   regime by the Modi Government was to do away with multiple taxing system however without adding cost to the consumer but  the islanders witnessed  contrary to the same. Timber is widely   used  by  middle and low income  people for   constructing their dwelling units  in these islands.   However, consequent on  ban  imposed  on extraction of timber by  the Supreme Court,  availability of timber became scarce and its  extraction  got  restricted   with   A &N Islands Forest Department.   As such public were  facing  difficulties to fetch  their  requirement  of timber for constructing  dwelling units and for other purposes. Levy  of GST @  18%  on timber by the A & N Administration  added with  10- 12 %  hike  in the basic cost  of various category of timber has  further  hardened the difficulties of the common people.   As a result of enormous increase in the price  of timber,  the SSI units and individuals engaged in  wood industry are also badly affected    due to   sharp decline in  sale of  various products, said Mr Sharma.
He further said that   prior to implementation of GST all the local manufactured  items,  materials like swan timer,    stone boulders &  crushed stone, sand, marine products etc. were available to   general public without levy of any tax.   Mr Kuldeep demanded that   timber,  which is naturally available material for construction of  houses, dwelling units,  be issued to   the  residents of  these islands without levying GST as was done in the past.   A number of amendments  have  been made by the NDA government  after imposition of the GST. Mr Kuldeep urged the Lt. Governor   to take up the matter with GOI  for exemption of GST on timber     considering the  fact that  timber is  widely used by  common people for construction purpose and artisans for wood crafts  &  making furniture, 
“The Andaman & Nicobar  Islands being far away from the mainland of India, has become one of the most expensive place in India.  90-95% of   day to day consumable items  of  the people  are brought from mainland India.   There was no   other tax except CST@2%  and  Octroi / Entry tax  was prevailing in A & N Islands prior to implementation of GST and  all products brought  from mainland were  available at  normal rates. However,    after implementation of  GST   the situation has changed and  the  prices of all items have increase abnormally.  Tourism Sector in Andaman & Nicobar Islands   is  severely hampering  due to the negative  impact of GST  and is resulting in disproportionate inflation on existing costs, and is severely hampering the tourism industry,” said Mr Sharma.  He further said that  the outcome of  the visit of  the senior team  deputed  by the Govt. of India under the Chairmanship of  the Principal Chief Commissioner of GST during   end of October, 2017 to study the impact of implementation of GST in the  islands    has not yet  known to the  islanders  even after  the lapse of   three months. He urged that  the local administration and  the Member of parliament  and the BJP party should  seriously  take up the matter with the Govt. of India  to grant exemption  in  levy of  GST in these islands   considering the high cost of transportation   due to  isolation of  these  islands   from mainland.

The  dharna was  also  addressed by Smti Shanta Laxman Singh, Mr Noor Islam, Mr A. R Manickam, Mr Sunder Rao, Smti Ratna Kannan, Miss Mariyam Bibi, Mr Tamil Selvam, Mr Shahul Hameed, Smti Zubaida, Mr Sanna Rao, Mr R. K Raj, Mr C. D Singh, Mr Javed, Smti Ruchi, Smti Laxmi, Mr Rehman. All  leaders  highlighted the negative impact of GST on the general public  of these islands  and  the anti-people  policies of  Modi-led  NDA Govt and urged  the gathering to strengthen  the hands of  Mr Rahul Gandhi.