BENGALURU: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today urged the central government to exempt handmade products from the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
In a letter to Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley, Siddaramaiah said: "I am writing to raise a very critical issue that the GST council should take note of and decide on a priority basis." The chief minister said that he has received a representation from a committee constituted by Gram Seva Sangh (GSS), seeking handmade products produced and marketed by producer cooperative societies and their federations be exempted from the GST.
The GSS comprises noted activists, including Prof Ashis Nandy, Uzramma and Shyam Benegal.
Siddaramaiah said that noted theatre activist Prasanna had been on a 'Satyagraha' and hunger strike against GST on many handmade products for the past few days in Bengaluru.
The chief minister said imposition of the GST on such products has had an adverse effect on the livelihood of artisans.
Referring to the representation, a copy of which was attached with the letter to Jaitley, he said, "The representation requires serious and urgent consideration and a positive resolution." "This would not only benefit a large segment of our rural population, but would also give a boost to rural employment and sustainability," the chief minister said.
Meanwhile, Prasanna, who was on an indefinite fast in the city for the past five days on the issue, called off his fast in the evening.
Prasanna broke the fast following an "assurance" from Siddaramaiah that the state government would support the satyagraha's demand for zero percent GST on handmade products, a release from Environment Support Group, the NGO which extended support to the protest, said.
Prasanna had demanded total waiver of GST on handmade products, saying it would cause the collapse of the rural economy.