Kashmir’s bat industry thrown into a dark tunnel
Sangam: The bat manufacturing industry of Kashmir has fallen from a bad phase to ‘dire straits’ with implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) with many of the manufacturers saying they might not be able to bear the brunt.
The industry, listed as a ‘Hand Tool Industry’, has gone from total tax exemption to a tax of 12 per cent now being levied under the recently implemented GST.
The manufacturers mostly based in Sangam and Halmulla areas of Anantnag district, along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, say that their sales have slashed by more than seventy per cent after the GST was implemented.
The manufacturers say that they cannot afford 12 per cent tax.
“Earlier we were exempted from any taxes against furnishing of Form-C or a meager five per cent otherwise. Now, in any case we get to pay 12 per cent GST,” Shakeel Ahmad, owner of Frontline Sports told Kashmir Reader.
The cricket bat manufacturers have been traditionally sending their finished products to their clients in other parts of India and receive payments in parts, the completion of which takes almost over a year.
“Earlier the trickling in of payments was fine. Now, however, we are supposed to pay GST thrice a month, which amounts to lacs of rupees. How can we afford that, without having our dues cleared?” President of the Cricket Bat Manufacturers Association, Ghulam Qadir Dar told Kashmir Reader.
Besides, they say, that the cost of their GST levied cricket bat is getting unaffordable for the middle class consumer, which forms the bulk of the market.
“A bat which used to cost Rs 600 to our trader, in say Mumbai, now costs him Rs 744. It essentially means that the consumer is going to get it for no less than Rs 1,000,” said Altaf Dar, another manufacturer.
The manufacturers are worried that the consumers will rather buy an English willow in that much of money, than the Kashmir willow which used to be a cheaper substitute.
“The GST has taken the USP of being a cheaper substitute from our product,” the manufacturers say.
The most worried of the lot are small time manufacturers in the area, who primarily depended on their counterparts in parts of India.
“Our primary customers used to be the small time firms in parts of India. Most of them have shut shop after the GST axe fell on them. They are no longer functional and have left us high and dry,” some small time manufacturers told Kashmir Reader.
The people associated with the trade rue that the government has been least bothered about their plight for a very long time now.
“We have been bearing the brunt since we got displaced by highway widening. Then the floods ravaged us. This was followed by demonetization and GST. There seems to be no end to our miseries,” the manufacturers rue.
They say that the government has been so apathetic towards their plight that they have not even been compensated after the devastating floods of 2014, leave alone other things of concern.
Shailendra Kumar, the Commissioner Secretary to government for Industries and Commerce Department said that the manufacturers should represent themselves with their concerns.
“They should come to me and I will make sure that their tax issue is put forth in to the GST Council. But they should come forward sooner than later,” Kumar told Kashmir Reader.