**Bhubaneswar: ** Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today dashed a letter to Union Finance Minister and Chairman of GST Council Arun Jaitley urging him to reduce GST levied on Kendu (Tendu) leaves from 18% to 5%.
“In the interest of large cross section of the people dependent upon Kendu (Tendu) leaves for their livelihood, it is requested to place the matter in the next meeting of GST Council and consider to reduce GST on Kendu (Tendu) leaves from 18% to 5%,” the Odisha Chief Minister has mentioned in his letter.
Elucidating on the matter, the Chief Minister has argued, “Kendu (Tendu) 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. They have the right to procure and sell these products.”
He has further stated, “After the implementation of GST w.e.f. 1st July, 2017, 18% GST is levied on Kendu (Tendu) leaf. In Odisha, prior to implementation of GST, there was 5% VAT on Kendu (Tendu) leaf. 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 go-downs. This has led to drop in selling price of Kendu (Tendu) leaves sold by Odisha Forest Development Corporation Ltd. through tender, which has adversely impacted the implementation of social security and welfare schemes for 8.5 lakh Kendu (Tendu) leaf pluckers, seasonal workers and binding workers engaged in this trade.”
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