Telangana State Finance Minister T Harish Rao on Friday requested Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to repeal GST imposed on bidis produced by poor women in Telangana. The minister accompanied by State Finance Secretary K Ramakrishna Rao and Special Chief Secretary to Revenue Somesh Kumar called on the Nirmala at Goa where the 37th GST council meeting conducted.
Harish explained the woes of bidi production companies ever since the Centre imposed 18 percent GST on the collection of bidi leaves and 28 percent on the final products under the single tax regime – GST which came into force in the country two years ago. The bidi companies were unable to bear the extra GST burden and it directly affecting the livelihoods of poor women, who collects bidi leaves in the forests.
The Telangana government is providing pension to the bidi workers in a bid to address their financial problems, he said and added that the Centre brought the bidi industry under GST purview leaving the small investors as well as the workers in deep crisis. The companies were not paying wages regularly due to the GST burden. He pleaded with the union minister to bring some relief to the bidi industry by announcing some incentives and protect the workers from losing their livelihoods. In a quick response, Nirmala said that the union government is planning to bring a new comprehensive policy for the rehabilitation of the bidi workers in the country.