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Hike in tax due to GST hurts artisans as buyers refuse to pay up

Dasara festivities and tourism are the lifeline for thousands of families including artisans in Mysuru. But the recently introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) has delivered a mortal blow to the centuries-old trade of making handicrafts, wood carving and inlay works.

Published: 15th September 2017 03:47 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th September 2017 07:01 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

MYSURU:Dasara festivities and tourism are the lifeline for thousands of families including artisans in Mysuru. But the recently introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST) has delivered a mortal blow to the centuries-old trade of making handicrafts, wood carving and inlay works.

With a steep rise in tax from 5% to 12% on wall plates and artefacts and from 12 to 24% on rose and teak wood carvings, sales of furniture like sofa, easy chairs and dinning sets are badly hit.Over 10,000 artisans working for generations were first hit by demonetisation. Now it is GST.

An artist carving an elephant
out of rosewood in
Mysuru | Express

Mysuru and the region have a large number of artisans right from the days of Tipu Sultan who promoted wood carving and inlay works. As business grew with the availability of rosewood and sandalwood for decades, the government even set up a wood seasoning plant and constructed a handicrafts colony for artisans. The works, particularly inlay works, attracted businesses from abroad too and a good number of firms came up to export furniture to Western and Gulf countries. But, the increase in tax has brought down sales at the state-run Cauvery Emporium and also in other handicraft units by 60 -70%. A sales executive said 11 customers cancelled orders refusing to pay the high tax. A consumer refused to pay `96,000 tax on purchase of rosewood jula furniture with inlay works, he added.

The situation is similar in all emporiums as the public are not ready to pay 24%GST on furniture. Eshwar, an artisan who supplies consignments to emporiums, said the increase in tax has slowed down the business.

Handicrafts and Artisans Association president Ramanna said they are running from pillar to post knocking on the doors of the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and members of GST council pleading to reduce the tax. He feared that the fall in sales, orders would force experienced artisans to give up the occupation and switch over to other jobs. “GST has spelled doom on thousands of people dependent on handicarfts for generations,” he added. When the GST council reduced GST on inlay carved marble works in Jaipur from 24 per cent to 12 per cent, why can’t they apply the same yardstick to woodcrafts as it means bread and butter for artisans of the country, he asked.

The scarcity of sandalwood has also hit artisans forcing them to depend on hard yellow wood for carving of beads and religious artefacts. While those in to furniture making depend on rosewood auctioned by the government.



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