In a situation when the whole nation is still trying to grasp the different aspects of the GST tax and experts are debating whether it is going to be beneficial for the traders and business groups in different parts of the country, the government of Odisha has demanded a few days ago the exemption of GST for the various handicraft and handloom products that are made in the state of Odisha. S B Behera, the Finance Minister of Odisha has made this appeal at a GST Council meeting that was held recently in New Delhi. He stated that since the products made by the artisans and weavers of Odisha help them to earn their day to day livelihood, the GST tax should not be applied for these products as otherwise it would be very difficult for them to have a normal life and buy all the things that they need to produce the good and clothes they work on.
In the state of Odisha, more than 3.5 lakh artisans and weavers earn their livelihood by manufacturing and selling these products. Therefore if GST is applied on them, it would naturally be very difficult for them to have the basic amount of money that they need for their managing their day to day expenses. Therefore in keeping with the best interests of the artisans and weavers in Odisha who contribute in a major way to the economy of the state, the Finance Minister has appealed to the authorities that they be exempted from the GST taxes that are to be levied from the next month.
From the very beginning, Odisha has played a central role in the development of the cottage industries in India and plenty of weavers and artisans have had their origins in the rural regions of Odisha. Over the years, they have been able to develop a wide range of clothing items, handlooms and also handicraft items that not only enjoys a high demand in India but also in other parts of the world. Some of the most well known handloom products that are manufactured in Odisha include Sambalpuri, Maniabandha, Bomkei and Tussar sarees. Skilled weavers toil for long hours to create these beautiful sarees that are known for their vivid designs and imagery, striking colors and elegant appearance. Each of these sarees carries the distinct imprint of the cultural beliefs and aesthetics of Odisha. Likewise, handicraft goods such as stone works, appliqué, wood works, patta painting, tribal crafts and terracotta products are some of the items that are regularly manufactured in Odisha.
Currently all of these handloom and handicraft products are made successfully since they are totally free from tax. If however, the GST tax is levied on them, there will be a substantial financial pressure on the skilled but financially poor artisans and weavers who will find it difficult to get the money that they need to produce them. The Financial Minister of Odisha, S B Behera has also appealed to the authorities that the GST tax meant for kendu leaves is finalized at only 5% as this can help to preserve the livelihood of the millions of men and women in Odisha who work as kendu leaf pluckers. Most of these people are from tribal groups and so they hardly have got any other means to earn food for their living. As the debate is on for the GST tax and its ramifications, it is now for people to see whether such taxes are exempted for the artisans and weavers of Odisha who will hardly benefit from such regulations if they are levied from the next month.