Srinagar: The Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Association on Friday threatened to launch a “never-before agitation” if the Goods and Services Tax (GST) affects the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
In a press conference held here, the association said that the business community in Kashmir has apprehensions about the new GST regime eroding the special status of J&K, apprehensions that the government should allay.
“We are not against any kind of tax. We welcome the GST even though we live in a disputed territory, but we will oppose it (GST) and launch a never-before agitation if it threatens the special status of J&K,” president of the association, Mohammad Yaseen Khan, said.
The members of the trade body censured the policy of ‘ek vidhaan ek pradhaan (one law, one regime)’ of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and warned of an agitation if the special status of J&K under Article 370 is eroded in any way.
“We just want the answer to one question, from the government here and in New Delhi: will the GST endanger the special status of J&K? If it doesn’t then we have no issues, but if it does, then they will see a kind of unrest which they have never seen before here (in Kashmir),” Khan, who also heads the Kashmir Economic Alliance, said.
President of the Federation of Chamber of Industries Kashmir, Muhammad Ashraf Mir, said that the business community is not trying to resist the GST, but “handing over financial independence to New Delhi won’t be accepted”.
“The GST has been implemented all over the world in 140 countries and we can’t resist it. But we will not accept surrendering our financial independence to Delhi,” Mir said.
He said that the government should explain what has been done to safeguard the industrial sector in Kashmir.
On Thursday during the 14th meeting of the GST Council, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that New Delhi would provide all possible help to the JK government in restructuring the Goods and Services Tax so that it does not erode its autonomy powers.
“Only the Jammu and Kashmir state and its assembly will decide how they want to implement GST. The Centre will ensure all help. The implementation of GST will help increase the revenue of the state because it is a consumer state,” Jaitley had said while talking to reporters at the SKICC.
JK Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu had also said that implementation of GST would boost the state’s tax revenue by nearly Rs 2,000 crore.