23rd GST Meet brings good news for NE Bamboo and Cane industry

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Guwahati, November 11: Deputy Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Chowna Mein, who is also a member of the GST Council has revived the hopes and fortune of the Bamboo & Cane industry by pitching his proposal in the GST Council meet held yesterday to reduce the rate on Bamboo & Cane furniture from 18 percent to 12 percent. The Council accepted his proposal and it came as an achievement for the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The decision received overwhelming support from all the North Eastern States, as bamboo is an intrinsic part of the social fabric and tribal way of living for the tribes of the North Eastern states.

”Bamboo was exempted in the VAT regime, as it has local importance, as poor people earn their livelihood by selling bamboo and its products. However, with the implementation of GST and levying 5 percent tax on raw bamboo and 18 percent on bamboo and cane furniture, the local industry has been badly affected and local people have an apprehension that it would affect their livelihood too”, Mein said. Further stressing his point, he said that bamboo cultivation reduces the pressure on timber and if bamboo and cane industry is not patronized then illegal deforestation will increase as wooden furniture also attracts 18 percent GST.

The decision of the GST council to reduce the rate on Bamboo & Cane furniture from 18 percent to 12 percent has been welcomed by Assam’s Bamboo & Cane Handicrafts industry as well. Since July, monthly sales of the state’s flagship Pragjyotika Emporium chain have plunged by almost 50 percent, bringing down sales to Rs 12 lakhs from Rs 30 lakhs earlier. Since the implementation of GST, most of the small and medium-sized businesses across Assam have been struggling with the transition to the new regime. Many of the craftsmen and artisans were on the verge of losing their jobs as businesses had almost come down by 60 percent because levying 28 percent GST meant, a sofa set that was earlier sold for Rs 30,000 was being sold at a price of Rs 45,000. Handicrafts items under Rs 1,000 are taxed at 12 percent while bamboo and cane furniture are fixed at 18 and 28 percent.

The points made by the Deputy Chief Minister were well received and the GST Council agreed to reduce GST rate on Bamboo and Cane furniture from 18% to 12%. This decision is likely to benefit all the North Eastern states and provide some relief and revive the hopes of the Bamboo & Cane industry.

Edited by: Arnab Jyoti Das