The All India Fishmeal and Oil Manufacturers Association has begun an indefinite strike to protest against the alleged unfair levy of Goods and Service Tax with retrospective effect from July 1, 2017. Fishmeal, which is made fromsea catches unfit for human consumption, is used for manufacturing animal feed. In December 2018 the Centre levied 5 per cent GST with retrospective effect. Previously, it was exempt under the Central Excise and VAT regime.
The association which represents Fishmeal business owners from across the coastal belt with a combined revenue of INR 10,000-12,000 crore. Business owners have been asked to pay penalties and summons has been served by the Tax Department. “Despite having received assurances from the relevant authorities to look into the matter, our bank accounts have been attached leaving our businesses paralyzed”, said Ashok Sarang, State Vice President of the manufacturers association.
While industry players feel that the new tax imposition will affect their business adversely, the decision to go on a strike has been taken to protest the retrospective implementation of the tax.
“Since the authorities had exempted fishmeal from being taxed, we went on with our business with that in mind. We ourselves did not collect in our sales for one full year. We do not mind paying taxes henceforth if need be, but we are no frauds.”, said Mohammad Qureshi, owner of Aakash Fishmeal and Fishoil Ltd.
The strike may affect the livelihood of fishermen around the country. Since the fishing vessel owners depend on the sale of the trash catch to fishmeal manufacturers to free up trawler space and cover certain costs, the cost of edible fish sold in the seafood market is expected to shoot up due to the strike.