Country craft fishermen of Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts have urged the Tamil Nady government and central government to waive customs duty (35.04%), goods and services tax (GST at 28%) and handling charge (1%) on import of outboard machines (OBM) used to propel the crafts. They said that these taxes have escalated the price of the engine by Rs 57,915 from its base price of Rs 77,655. President of Thoothukudi District Country Boat Fishermen Association S J Gayes said nearly 20,000 boats from Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari go fishing every day for a distance of up to 50 nautical miles.
“90% of fishermen go fishing in country crafts and fibre boats, propelled by OBMs,” he said. These fishermen depend on daily fishing for a livelihood and cannot afford to buy imported engines. “Though its base price is only Rs 77,655, it shoots up to Rs 1,35,570 after adding the customs duty, GST and handling charge,” he added. “Waiver of the taxes and duty will help fishermen get the boats at Rs 77,655 against Rs 87,570 they pay after 40% subsidy provided by the state government,” said GayesCountry craft fishermen have urged the government to provide 40% subsidy from the base price of the engine so that fishermen would be able to get it at Rs 46,000.
“We have asked the government to increase the subsidy for 1,000 boats annually and reduce the cap on replacing these engines given at subsidised price to two years, from the existing four years,” he added. On Tuesday, representatives of country craft fishermen associations from Tirunelveli region petitioned deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam, fisheries minister D Jayakumar and senior fisheries department officials on these issues. “We have also sent a representation to defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman,” Gayes said.