Tamil Nadu

GST takes shine off Kancheepuram silk sarees

Show of unity: Silk saree showrooms in Kancheepuram remained closed on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: D. Gopalakrishnan

Showrooms selling silk sarees in Kancheepuram town downed shutters on Tuesday protesting against the imposition Goods and Services Tax. The Kancheepuram Handloom Silk Jari Sarees Manufacturers Association had given a call for a day-long protest following the imposition of GST of 5% on raw silk and 12 % on gold zari and 5% on the finished product by the Centre from July 1.

Talking to The Hindu, association president Y.M. Narayanasamy said imposing of GST on silk sarees would only force weavers, cooperative societies and marketing agencies to hike the retail price of silk sarees to around 20 to 22% depending on the variety. He said the very survival of the industry would be jeopardised if the traders failed to hike the sale price of sarees. Already, the patronage to pure Kancheepuram sarees had crashed in view of their higher price tag necessitated by the inclusion of gold in the online trading platform in 2006-07.

“Many customers who come looking to purchase ‘pure Kancheepuram sarees’ change their minds on noticing the price tag,” he said.

At this juncture, imposing of GST on silk sarees would not only result in a further hike in the price of pure Kancheepuram silk sarees but also of the other varieties, leading to further losses.

When gold, the prime ingredient for zari, was included in the online trading platform there were around 25,000 looms in the town. But after a decade this number had come down by half as the business had witnessed a slump, he said.

Irregular jobs

Meanwhile, V.Paranthaman of Little Kancheepuram, said already the weavers were unable to get regular jobs either from the societies or from the private master-weavers due to price hike in raw materials required for weaving silk sarees. Including the silk saree in GST tax net of 18% would further burden the industry and thereby the chances of weavers getting regular work orders could be affected, he lamented.

Experts in the industry also feel that imposing GST might cast a disastrous effect on the industry as it was already reeling under the severe financial crisis.

B. Stalin of Kanchipuram Kamakshiamman Silk Cooperative Society said that of the 22 societies, only six manufactured Kancheepuram sarees using pure silk and zari. “Weavers of many societies don’t get the annual bonus due to loss-making societies. They only get their labour. A hand-woven pure silk sari with good quality zari costs a minimum of ₹ 7,000 at Kancheepuram and to make that a weaver spends 12 days. He gets a salary of ₹ 3,000 for that, which is not much considering the amount of work that goes into it,” he explained.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 6:34:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/gst-takes-shine-off-kancheepuram-silk-sarees/article19360556.ece

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