The implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has hit the fishing sector seriously. Several inputs that go into the fishing activities and trade have attracted heavy tax rates.
According to Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi president Charles George, most of the inputs in the fishing sector come from outside Kerala.
The tax on outboard engines has gone up from 14.5% to 28%; tax on ice box has gone up from 14.5% to 18% and items like nets, hooks etc, which did not have tax now come with 12% tax. Even dry fish attracts a tax of 5%.
The outboard engines are imported. Import duty has been increased from 25% to 33%. Floats has a tax rate of 28%.
The tax on nylon thread has gone up to 18%. This has hit net-making sector where women are employed. Around 200 women are engaged in Thiruvananthapuram district alone in net-making using nylon threads, Mr. George said.
The increase in the cost of fisheries input would lead to rise in the prices of fish being brought to the market for sale, he said.
The trade union leader also slammed the government saying that there was a promise that agricultural products would come with low tax or without tax. Fishing falls under the farming sector and it is the most backward of the sectors, he said.
The fishing sector in Kerala as a whole is undergoing a crisis. Over the last three years, oil sardine landings had come down from four lakh tonnes to 25,000 tonnes. This has hit the traditional sector seriously. Even after the onset of the monsoon, fish landings had not picked up in the State.
The trade union wants the Union government to come forward to the aid of the fishing sector considering the impact of the GST.