GST a stumbling block for Odisha’s fisher women

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Samudram, a community-based federation of women’s self-help groups of marine fisherwomen living on Odisha’s coast, has claimed that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was hurting its business prospects. Seventy nine self help groups of Ganjam, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts are attached to Samudram, which is involved in the production and trading of dry fish and other processed fish products.

Samudram managing director B. Chitamma said they had been processing about 3,000 tonnes of fish and prawn products every month before the implementation of GST. “Because of bureaucratic hassles related to GST our scope of trading has gone down and we have reduced our production to about 500 kg per month,” she said, adding that the members are now compelled to sell their produce at local markets in smaller amounts.

Before the GST era, less educated or illiterate women of Samudram used to sell fish and prawn products across Odisha. They also sent large quantities of their produce to Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and the Northeastern States. Without GST registration, they are now unable to send their produce outside the State or market it in large amounts within Odisha. For GST registration and maintenance of its records and ledgers, Samudram has to employ extra staff that needs more investment. For waybills to send produce outside, it has to pay GST in advance and wait for some months to get the return.

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