Lower GST on beedis: Workers to govt

The production of beedis in India provides employment to near 90 lakhs to one crore people
Last Updated 23 February 2022, 16:47 IST

Several unions and workers’ collective have come together to demand the government to lower the GST levied on beedis. The All-India Beedi Industry Federation, Swadesh Jagran Manch and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh as well as prominent parliamentarians demanded that the 28% GST levied on beedis be cut down so that the livelihoods of the 4.5 crore people involved, which includes a huge section of women, are not affected adversely.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch National Convenor Dr Ashwani Mahajan says that the beedi industry employs a large number of women in Naxal-affected areas. “High GST on bidis is detrimental to both the industry and the workforce. The production of beedis in India provides employment to near 90 lakhs to one crore people. A majority of the workers are women who live in Naxalite areas where no alternative job opportunities exist. This is why it is becoming critical to reduce the tax on bidi or else the industry will face the risk of being counter-productive to the Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative,” Mahajan said.

There is a danger of dependency on cheap Chinese cigarettes, he added.

Arjun Khanna, Joint Secretary of the All India Beedi Industry Federation said that at this rate, this may wipe out one of India’s oldest indigenous industries at the risk of being wiped out.

Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh All India Organising Secretary B. Surendran says that the textile and finance ministry recently lowered the GST on the textile industry. “It is important for the government to reduce the current 28% rate of GST by making it mandatory for all beedi companies to register their entities under EPF and DSI and pay a reduced rate of GST,” Surendran said.

TMC MP Khallilur Rahman said that in Bengal, beedi-making is an indigenous industry which is the primary source of income for well over 20 lakhs families in Bengal.

Those present also said that in March 2020, we saw the GST Council rationalise the rates on handmade products to 5%. Since the beedi is a man-made product, then this consideration should be extended to the beedi industry as well, they said.

Watch the latest DH videos:

(Published 23 February 2022, 16:47 IST)

Follow us on