Gujarat fishmeal makers join nationwide strike against GST

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Fishmeal producers of Gujarat suspended operations of their plants and joined the nationwide strike going on since the beginning of this month against the imposition of five percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on their produce, saying theirs is an agri-orient product and critical for booming shrimp farming in the country. “Fishmeal producers of Gujarat joined our strike on Sunday. With this, almost all the fishmeal producing units of the country spread in Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat have suspended operations and joined the strike,” Davood Sait, national secretary of All India FishMeal and Oil Manufacturers and Merchants Association (AIFMOMMA) told The Indian Express on Monday.

There are around 25 sterilization plants in Gujarat which manufacture fishmeal and fish oil. All of them are located in the Saurashtra coast of the state. The decision by the fishmeal producers of Gujarat comes to a couple of days after Sait held a meeting with them in Veraval town in Gir Somnath district on Friday. Fishmeal producers in other states have been on indefinite strike since the beginning of this month, demanding rollback of five percent GST levy on fishmeal used in preparing aqua-feed. Before GST was introduced in India on July 2017, fishmeal was not a taxable item. The government initially proposed to levy five percent GST on this product only to declare it non-taxable later on.

However, on December 31 last year, the Union Finance Ministry issued a circular, clarifying that GST was applicable on fishmeal also and Sait said that some units received notices demanding the tax with retrospective effect. “We are already paying 12 percent GST on fish oil and five percent GST on fishmeal which is used in the manufacturing of fertilizer. We have objected to this levy. But fishmeal is also used as the main ingredient in preparations of aqua-feed which is required in shrimp farming. Thus, fishmeal meant for aqua-feed is an agricultural-oriented product and hence non-taxable,” Sait further said.

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