Valley traders to hit the streets against GST, call for ‘Kashmir Bandh’ on Saturday

If the Govt believes that the law will not erode special status, let us have a live debate: Khan

Srinagar: Valley’s businessmen have decided to hit the streets against the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST). The Kashmir Economic Alliance lead by Mohammad Yaseen Khan had decided to hold a sit in at the Clock Tower in the business center of Lal Chowk at 12:30 pm Saturday.

The traders have also given a call of Kashmir Bandh on Saturday.

Addressing a presser in Srinagar, Khan, who is also the President of Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) said that they are ready to ‘lay their lives’ but won’t allow the implementation or the extension of the GST in the state.

“We will not allow this to happen. We won’t surrender anything. We unanimously reiterate our stand against ‘One India, One Tax’,” said Khan.

He added, “In this protest against the proposed law, all traders have unified and will fight its implementation tooth and nail.”

However, the Jammu Chamber of Commerce on Thursday said that GST is a ‘taxation reform and has nothing to do with the constitution of the state.’

Khan clarified that in their meetings with the President of the Jammu Chamber Rakesh Gupta, he had supported valley’s traders in their demand of non implementation of the GST.

Khan pointed out that Gupta’s statement in favour of the GST might be due to some political pressure.

“We have had three meetings with the Jammu Chamber President and in all those meetings he supported us. Not only him, many Ministers we met regarding the issue, they were also with us in this regard,” Khan informed.

He further added, “Whatever he is saying now, I don’t know why he is doing that. Maybe he is under some kind of political pressure. Otherwise every state subject wants to protect our special status.”

While responding to a question that Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu had stated that traders are on board, Khan said that they never accepted what the government had to offer regarding GST.

“Every time we met the government, we have always expressed our concerns, we are expressing them and we will keep reminding them of those concerns till they are not addressed. We won’t stop opposing it till they (Government) give it to us in writing and it should be acceptable to us,” Khan stressed.

Talking about extension of VAT to the state, Khan said that the law didn’t erode the special status of the state in anyway.

“That law was put in place by the state government, keeping in view our special status. Though forcefully, but that law respected our special status. We were consulted and taken into confidence. However, this time, things are different as the proposed law stands in confrontation of our special status,” Khan clarified.

Traders had at that time opposed the implementation of VAT in Jammu and Kashmir.

Drabu has time and again reiterated that the extension of GST to the state will not erode the special status or damage the financial autonomy in any way.

Khan however, said that, on the issue traders are ready for an open debate in front of the media.

“If that is the case, then they should have a debate with us which should be telecasted live. If they are so sincere and have nothing to hide, then they should come forward and talk to us in front of the people,” Khan dared the government.

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