Srinagar: Many Kashmiri apple farmers and traders had to skip a heartbeat when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced a 35 percent Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess on the fruit. But Kashmir-based experts think that it would have no impact on the apple industry which brings more than Rs 10,000 crore to Jammu and Kashmir annually, one of the highest sources of income in the union territory.
Director of Horticulture, Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told Kashmir Reader that the new cess would not have any adverse impact on anything related to the apple trade. Instead, he said, it will be good for the “untapped market”.
“Those who think that it will hit apple trade are wrong. I am telling you, it will benefit us,” Bhat said.
The cess, which will be effected from February 2, will be charged at the rate of 35% on apples on the “customs side”. The other goods on which the cess has been imposed include: gold, silver and dore bars (2.5%); crude palm oil (17.5%); crude soyabean and sunflower oil (20%); coal, lignite and peat (1.5%); specified fertilisers (5%); peas (40%); kabuli chana (30%); Bengal gram/chickpeas (50%); lentil (20%) and cotton – not carded or combed (5%).
Chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers’ Union, Basheer Ahmad Basheer, told Kashmir Reader that the cess will be imposed on imports and not on apple produced within India.
“I don’t think it will hurt us in any way,” he said.
Cess is a form of tax charged/ levied over and above the base tax liability. A cess is usually imposed when the state or the central government looks to raise funds for specific purposes. For example, the government levies an education cess to generate additional revenue for funding primary, secondary, and higher education. Cess is not a permanent source of revenue for the government; it is discontinued when the purpose for levying it has been fulfilled. It can be levied on both indirect and direct taxes.