The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) strongly denounces the decision of the Modi-led BJP government to impose GST on essential items. This notification imposing 5 percent GST on essential pre-packaged non-branded food commodities like rice, wheat, atta, pulses, curd, paneer, milk, jaggery, buttermilk and other such goods that were earlier exempt from taxation will intensify the misery of the people.
Already the repeated rise in cost of LPG cylinders, petrol and diesel, unbearable levels of inflation and rising food prices, and massive unemployment has made it extremely difficult for women to keep the home fires burning.
Food items like rice, wheat, pulses etc. and daily essentials like curd, paneer, meat, fish, jaggery were never taxed in these last 75 years. Ironically this decision to tax food items has been taken when India’s rating in the Global Hunger Index has been plummeting and now stands at 101 out of 116 countries.
GST has also been increased on crematorium charges, hospital rooms, writing ink etc. 18 per cent GST on bank cheques has to be paid even to withdraw one’s own savings from the bank account!
Gold purchases are taxed at 3 per cent, diamonds at 1.5 per cent, while food items have GST of 5 per cent or more. That itself betrays the character of this government. Instead of taxing the rich, the Modi government is snatching even the measly morsel from the mouths of the poor, which will further intensify starvation, malnutrition and hunger deaths. This is Modi government’s ‘gift’ to the people on the eve of our 75th Independence day!
We welcome the fact that the Chief Minister of Kerala has conveyed his strong objection to the central government. The state government has stated that it will not tax items sold by Kudumbashree or in small stores in 1 or 2 kg packets. The Kerala finance minister had opposed these proposals in the GST Council in November 2021 itself.
The AIDWA calls up on the people to stand united in the face of this assault and appeals to all democratically minded organisations mobilise people for opposing this anti-people measure. AIDWA also demands the immediate roll back of this unjust and shocking GST on essential items. AIDWA will hold protests all over the country on this assault on women’s lives by the Modi government.
Malini Bhattacharya Mariam Dhawale
President General Secretary