Traders’ body joins battle against GST

Calls for shutdown on Saturday

SRINAGAR: The Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation (KTMF), a largest business organisation in Kashmir, has rejected the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. It has its own constitution and separate laws, like India has. Because the intentions of the state government seem to be directly implementing the Indian law, we believe that it will affect the disputed nature of the Kashmir Valley. We want to tell them once again to refrain from it, otherwise Kashmir will erupt again,” Mohammad Yaseen Khan, President of the KTMF, told reporters on Thursday.
The Mehbooba Mufti government has called a special assembly session from June 17 to discuss the modalities of GST implementation in the state. The GST comes into force across India from July 1. Yaseen said the KTMF called for a statewide shutdown on July 17 to express the business community’s rejection of the GST.
When asked if JK’s economy will not suffer if it does not become part of the GST, Yaseen said that the business community won’t let the state give up the power of taxation to India at any cost.
“Government says the state will have benefits if it implements the law or else will suffer huge losses. We asked them to have our own GST law. They did not agree,” Yaseen said. “Economic losses have been part of business community since India entered Kashmir. In the past 30 years of insurgency, business has remained shut for six years. Did it break us? No. We are ready to suffer more losses but not to give up the power of taxation to India. We don’t accept the idea of one India, one tax.”
The state government had earlier called a meeting with the business community to rally them around the GST. The government said it reached a consensus with them. Yaseen refuted this claim.
“Our stand on GST has always been the same. We have told the JK finance minister to not do anything that will alter the disputed nature of the state. He agreed, but his actions seem far from the agreement,” he said.
GST is a law that has struggled for more than a decade to come into force. It was passed by the Indian Parliament last year. Considered to be the biggest tax reform in India since the country’s independence, it will replace all other taxes like central excise, VAT, entertainment tax, entry tax, luxury tax, etc.