The State government’s efforts to raise the issue of 0% tax for handmade products, following appeals from civil society groups, seems to have yielded results. On Thursday, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council decided to bring 29 handicraft products under the 0% tax rate.
The issue was taken up at the GST Council after the Gram Seva Sangha, which is spearheading the movement seeking 0% tax on handmade products, had submitted a petition to the Karnataka government. Noted theatre personality Prasanna, who also went on an indefinite fast, had met senior government functionaries to convince them on the need to protect the handmade sector.
On Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, who also chairs the Group of Ministers set up to look into technical glitches in the GST, had also acknowledged that the council would be considering tax benefits for the handicraft sector.
a welcomed the GST Council’s decision, but will continue to seek tax benefits for all handmade items across the country.
Mr. Prasanna, who has been vociferously campaigning for 0% tax through tax-denial satyagrahas, termed the decision as a good move. “We welcome the decision. This is the first step towards achieving better value for handmade products,” he said.
Incidentally, a 14-member committee set up by the sangha, under the leadership of noted sociologist Ashish Nandy, has identified over 200 handmade products across several sectors, including fisheries, agriculture, and forest produce, and has also come up with the definition of handmade. The committee report was submitted to the Karnataka government, following which the State government raised the issue at the GST Council.
“We will study the full implication of the decision and decide on the future course of action,” Mr. Prasanna said. He also said another padayatra will be launched from Kodekal in Yadgir taluk, the birthplace of sufi saint Kodekal Basavanna from Janaury 30.
“Through the padayatra, we want to highlight the need to achieve better value for handmade products. We will trace the 15th century saint Manteswamy, who had also brought together artisans.”