Rice millers to go on strike on Saturday

Rice mills in the State would suspend operations on Saturday in protest against the Centre’s decision to bring packaged rice under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

About 3,000 small, medium and large rice mills in the State would go on a token strike in protest against the Centre’s decision to levy 5% GST on pre-packaged rice, said M. Sivanandan, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Rice Mill Owners Association, here on Thursday. The strike was in response to the call given by the Federation of All India Rice Millers Association (FAIRMA), he added.

“Previously, only registered brands attracted 5% GST; now all pre-packaged and labelled rice have been brought under the ambit of the GST. This will adversely affect the rice mills and the consumers, who will have to bear a sudden increase of about Rs.2-3 a kg in the price of rice,” Mr.Sivanandan said.

The imposition of the levy had come at a time when a large number of people have been hit hard by the pandemic. The Centre could have avoided imposing the levy on packaged foodgrains at this stage, he observed.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has specified standards for packaging and labelling of food products to ensure quality. Those adhering to the standards would now be affected, he added.

Although mills and consumers in the five major rice consuming States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Kerala would be affected, millers in Tamil Nadu are further disadvantaged as they procure fine variety paddy, largely consumed by the people here, from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. “The rice mills in these States are largescale producers and the cost of production is less for them. But we have to bear the additional transportation cost involved in sourcing the raw material from these States. So millers from neighbouring States can sell their produce at competitive rates,” Mr. Sivanandan said.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 10:58:58 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/rice-millers-to-go-on-strike-on-saturday/article65639690.ece