Bhubaneswar: The Odisha chief minister, Naveen Patnaik, Friday wrote a letter to the prime minister Narendra Modi demanding that the handloom and handicraft products be kept out of the purview of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Stating that the levy of GST on handloom and handicrafts would increase the prices of these products, the chief minister has stated that this will adversely affect the livelihood of the poor families depending upon the production of these goods. “I would, therefore, urge that the issue needs urgent reconsideration in the GST Council for extending GST exemption on these products in the interest of the weavers and artisans,” Patnaik has written in his letter.

Patnaik’s letter came soon after a delegation of Odisha Shilpi Mahasangha met him and submitted a memorandum containing signatures of nearly 50, 000 artisans and weavers for GST exemption.

Over 3.5 lakh weavers and artisans depend on handloom and handicrafts for their livelihood. Keeping this in view the state government had exempted these items from Value Added Tax (VAT) prior to introduction of GST. Moreover, there was no excise duty levied on most of these products.

The state finance minister, Sashi Bhusan Behera, has recently written a letter to the union finance minister urging his to exempt these items from GST.  With the introduction of GST with effect from July 1, 2017, handloom fabric and handloom apparels have been made taxable under GST rates of 5% and 12% respectively and handicrafts have been levied a GST rate of 12% or 18% depending upon the type of handicraft.