Bhubaneswar26/11/22: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday urged the Centre to withdraw GST being imposed on kendu leaf trade in the interest of the livelihoods of about eight lakh poor people.
Patnaik dashed a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, barely three days after announcing a special package for the welfare of kendu leaf pluckers.
“Imposition of GST (18%) on kendu leaves is adversely affecting the trade. As a result, it affects the livelihoods of Kendu leaf pluckers, binders, and seasonal workers and the implementation of social security and welfare schemes for them,” Patnaik said in the letter.
The CM said kendu leaf, a minor forest produce (MFP), is the financial backbone of about eight lakh leaf pluckers, binders, and seasonal workers of Odisha and they mostly belong to the tribal community and poorest of the poor of the society.
He said tribals collect the leaves as part of their right defined under the Scheduled Tribals and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
“They have the rights to procure and sell these products,” Patnaik mentioned in the letter.
Patnaik on November 23, announced a special package for the people engaged in kendu leaf trade. They were included under the state government’s flagship Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY).
The Opposition BJP, however, termed Patnaik’s move as politically motivated and aimed at wooing the tribals of Padampur assembly constituency where by-election will be held on December 5.
The BJP in a statement said that Odisha government has not raised to issue relating to imposition of 18 per cent GST on Kendu leaf in the GST Council Meeting. “Let Patnaik announce waiver of 9 per cent GST on kendu leaf which his government is getting as share from the central tax, said Leader of Opposition Jay Narayan Mishra.