GST to further dent beedi industry

For an industry that’s already neck-deep in crisis, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has come as a major blow.

First, it was the pictorial warning of skulls and bones on the packets in which they are sold. Then, due to agitation by workers, it was replaced by warning symbols of scorpion, damaged chest and heart, and later the pictures of cancer.

The beedi industry in the State will witness further downfall with the Union government’s decision to impose 28% GST on beedi and 18% GST on tendu leaves. The biggest industry in Telangana in general and the north Telangana region in particular, the beedi industry employs, among others, 10 lakh women.

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In the integrated Karimnagar district alone, there are over 1.7 lakh beedi workers who eke out a living by rolling beedis. It is an alternative source of employment for powerloom weavers and their families, particularly in the Sircilla town.

Trade union leaders say the price of beedis would increase further with the GST being enforced, forcing people to purchase mini-cigerretes. Manufactures will reduce the production of beedis, further increasing the rate of unemployment.

It may be recalled that the Telangana government was providing honorarium of ₹1,000 per month to each beedi worker.

State secretary of Telangana Beedi and Cigar Workers’ Federation, affiliated to the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Samalla Mallesham, found fault with the Centre increasing the GST and pushing the beedi industry into crisis without providing an alternative source of employment to the employees.

“The high tax on beedi and tendu leaves is aimed only at closing down the beedi industry,” he said, adding that lakhs of people, mostly women, relying on the industry would be hit badly.

Mr. Mallesham said they would organise agitations to protect the beedi industry.

CPM district president G. Mukund Reddy said lakhs of people would be denied employment as beedi companies would be forced to close down following the high tax rate. He demanded that the government provide alternative employment to workers before increasing the GST.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 3:30:16 PM |

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