Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday urged Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to slash the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Kendu (Tendu) leaves from 18 per cent to 5 per cent.
In a letter to Jaitley, the Chief Minister said, “Kendu leaf, a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is the financial lifeline of the tribal people of Odisha. The tribal people collect the leaves as part of their right defined under Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.”
“The tribals have the right to procure and sell these products. After the implementation of GST from July 1, 2017, 18% GST is levied on Kendu (Tendu) leaf. In Odisha, prior to implementation of GST, there was 5% VAT on Kendu (Tendu) leaf,” Patnaik said.
“This hike from 5% to 18% is very high. Due to such hike in the GST rate, thousands of quintals of Kendu (Tendu) leaves are still lying at different godowns. This has led to a drop in selling price of Kendu leaves sold by Odisha Forest Development Corporation Ltd. through tender,” the CM stated in the letter.
He said the drop in selling price of Kendu (Tendu) leaves has adversely impacted the implementation of social security and welfare schemes for 8.5 lakh Kendu leaf pluckers, seasonal workers and binding workers engaged in this trade.
“In the interest of a large cross-section of the people dependent upon Kendu leaves for their livelihood, it is requested to place the matter in the next meeting of GST Council and consider reducing GST on Kendu leaves from 18% to 5%,” the CM added.