Even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi commences his second term, textile traders in Surat have come up with a set of demands including that of developing a garment hub near the south Gujarat city as well as redressal of issues related to the goods and services tax (GST). “Surat’s contribution to India’s textile industry is almost 50%. Textile units and different markets are providing direct and indirect employment to almost 10 lakh people. In such a scenario, there has to be a state-of-the-art ‘Garment Hub’ in the proximity of the city,” said Manoj Agrawal, president of Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association (FOSTTA).
According to Agrawal, garment hub would make the industry organised and competitive not only within the country but also in international markets. Another point the government needed to consider is GST-related issues, he said, adding that currently GST on yarn is 12%, which should be brought down to 5%. “Already, we are paying 5% tax on finished products. In such case, the industry is feeling the pinch of the double taxation. Moreover, tax credit would remain with weavers and unnecessarily working capital gets blocked,” he added. After the implementation of GST, the production of textile has been badly affected, plumetting from four crore metres per day to 2.5-3 crore, said Champalal Bothra, general secretary of FOSTTA. According to Bothra, the government should also consider the removal of GST on those units whose turnover is below Rs. 5 crore. Currently, the limit is Rs 50 lakh.
Another hurdle the textile industry is facing is the limit on cash transactions, said Devkishan Mangani, chairman of textile committee, South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI). Mangani said that currently, the limit is Rs 10,000 per day which should be at least Rs 25,000, so that traders can manage their expenses in proper manner and also get rid of unnecessary accountancy-related procedures. The size of textile industry in Surat is pegged at Rs 80,000 crore, giving employment to lakhs. In such a backdrop, most of the traders, including that of FOSTTA office-bearers, believe Union textile minister should be from Surat. If textile minister would come from Surat, he would be able to understand the local issues better, they said.