Madurai MP Su Venkatesan on Tuesday said that he has requested Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman to withdraw the 12 per cent GST on Sungudi sarees that are traditionally worn by women of the lower strata of the society.
In a statement, the CPI-M MP said that he met the minister in person at her office in New Delhi and told her that the popular and unique Sungudi sarees were crafted by the minority Saurashtrian community in Madurai, were handmade and machines are not used at any stage on this. He said that increasing the GST from 5 per cent to 12 per cent would crush the industry and render thousands jobless.
He said that the Tamil Nadu government had earlier exempted sales tax on Sungundi sarees in 1955 itself and added that these had received the geographic identity (GI) card from the Union government on January 1, 2005.
He said that in 2017, the Centre levied 5 per cent GST on Sungundi sarees that pushed the poor weaving community into poverty and increasing this GST to 12 per cent would lead to an end to the sarees’ production.
He said that the weavers were slowly recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic when the decision to increase GST to 12 per cent had befallen them. He said that the industry would be crushed rendering thousands jobless and on the streets.
The Minister, according to the MP, however, said that revising the GST rate is being decided by the GST Council and not the government.