Valley traders on Wednesday urged the business community of Kashmir to down their shutters on Saturday (June 4), to protest against the budget 2016-17 in case government failed to roll back the taxes.
In first of its kind, the Jammu traders who shared the stage in a meeting with the Valley traders also supported the Bandh call while appealing the state administration to rollback the taxes. Various trade bodies including Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCC&I), Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), Kashmir Traders & Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) and Jammu Chamber of Commerce & Industry after holding joint meeting over budget 2016-17 presented by the finance minister, Dr Hasseb A Drabu urged the valley businessmen to close down their shops on Saturday to mark a protest against the government.
The call according to a trade body member was given against increase from 5% to 14 ½ % in Schedule D–I, Entertainment duty of Rs.50/- per connection on satellite and cable TV, no exemption of tax, for Walnut wood carving products, long demanded tax exemption has not been given on handicraft made-up products like bags cushion covers etc, increase of 5% tax on ATF, neglecting long pending demand for Artisan Credit Card Scheme sought to be brought at par with the Kisan Credit Card Scheme, nothing specific from the state has been provided to compensate/provide relief to the flood victims, business or common man leaving them to suffer indefinitely, not addressing removal of negative list of items being manufactured by local industries, no consideration over waiving of interest/surcharge from power dues and waiver of penalties in the matter of defaults in commercial tax too has not been given any consideration.
KCCI president, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani said that ‘bandh call’ has been given against the taxes and various other demands, which finance minister failed to present in the 2016-17 budget in the ongoing legislative assembly. “Increase of 5% tax on ATF will affect the tourism sector in the state. We appeal the state government to rollback the taxes, which will directly or indirectly affect the common man or business community,” he said.
In a joint statement later, they said, “The budget has been found to be more on rhetoric and less on content, more-so, in the background of the devastation caused by the 2014 floods which caused unprecedented damage to people at large in general and trade, commerce and Industry in particular.”
The trade bodies urged the business establishments to down their shutters on June 4 in protest against the budget proposals unless the government rolls back the taxes and addresses the concerns. Presenting their objections, the trade bodies said the increase in taxes from five per cent to 14.5 per cent on consumer items like readymade garments, mobile phones, frozen food items will affect adversely both the business and the people in general.
The entertainment duty of Rs 50 per connection on satellite and cable TV would directly affect the common man, the statement said. No tax exemption has been given for walnut wood carving products or handicraft made products like bags, cushion covers etc, the joint statement said.
The increase of five per cent tax on ATF (Aviation Turbine Fuel) would impact the “already irrationally applied air fares to Jammu-Srinagar routes and would in turn affect badly the local and tourist travel”, the statement said.
The long-pending demand for Artisan Credit Card Scheme to be brought at par with the Kisan Credit Card Scheme has been ignored in the budget which is causing liquidity crunch for the artisans who are otherwise contributing in a big way to this export business of the state and foreign exchange earning of the country, it said.
The business community said nothing specific from the state has been provided to compensate or provide relief to the flood victims, leaving them to suffer indefinitely. Removal of negative list of items being manufactured by local industries has not been addressed and waiver of interest or surcharge from power dues has not been taken into consideration, it said.