By admin       2017-11-24

With the Saurashtra Ginners Association (SGA) announcing an indefinite strike from Friday against a Finance Ministry notification mandating reverse charge mechanism (RCM) under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the cotton farmers in Botad have been left in the lurch, waiting to sell their produce. Several cotton farmers reached the Botad marketing yard, the third largest yard in Saurashtra, Thursday morning without their stock after they read about the strike in local newspapers.“We are here to find out details about the strike. The papers stated that the farmers should not come here to sell cotton from November 24 till further announcement. I am happy that we were informed about the strike… it costs a lot to hire vehicles and get our stock of cotton here,” said Kanti Mori, a cotton farmer from Limboda village in Botad district. According to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) of Botad, around 62, 000 farmers are members of the marketing yard — most of them grow cotton. The daily transaction of cotton in this yard is stated to be around Rs 10 crore. A significant number of vegetable farmers also sell their produce here and the yards reports a transaction of Rs 14 crore everyday. According to the November 14 notification by the Revenue Department, Ministry of Finance, 5 per cent GST has been imposed on cotton under the RCM. The tax will be paid by the recipient of cotton supply — the ginners and cotton traders. Earlier, the government had postponed the implementation of the RCM till March 31, 2018. “We are firm on getting the RCM clause removed. We have approached the GST commissioner several times… we had given time till Monday to call us for a meeting in connection with the matter, nut there was no response. We will go on an indefinite strike from November 24 if our demand is not considered,” said Jayanti Patel, president of the Botad chapter of the SGA. According to the SGA, there are around 4,300 ginning units in the country, out of which 1,300 are in Gujarat, mostly in Saurashtra and north Gujarat. “This blocks our funds and reduce our working capital. We know that the strike will affect farmers, but we have no other choice,” said Patel. When asked about the upcoming elections, Patel said, “We are traders and for us it does not matter which party will win. What matters is how it impacts our work. GST and demonetisation has taken a toll on us.” At Samadiyal village, around 20 km from the marketing yard, cotton farmers Meghabhai Sasiya and Ghanshyam Mir were heard debating the strike called by the ginners’ body. “This is a wedding season and there are many family functions. We need money immediately. How can they go on strike? Where will I sell my cotton,” asked 55-year-old Meghabhai Sasiya, who grows mostly cotton his his 5-acre farm land. “I also grow a few vegetables and wheat when possible. Cotton is my main source of income. I do not earn much from the other products,” he said. Ghanshyam Mir, who belongs to neighbouring Sarva village, said: “I visited the yard in the morning and managed to sell my stock as those at the APMC requested some people to buy it.” “We hardly get good price for cotton. During the Congress rule, we used to get around Rs 1,500 for 20 kg of cotton. Now, it is Rs 900 for 20 kg… and now this strike,” said Mir who grows cotton and cumin on his 5-arce land. Sitting at his ginning factory, Manjibhai Patel (78), who calls himself as a ‘retired cotton farmer’, smiled when asked about the strike. “People say vikas has happened, but after the GST I think all the vikas has stopped. I do not know the fate of BJP after GST. We have believed in BJP but now I do not know what to say ,” said the farmer.

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