Dry fish, groundnut candy sales hit

Chennai: Karuvadu (dry fish) and kadala mittai (groundnut candy) sellers have something in common post GST-implementation: drop in sales.

Small time traders are upset as they feel the poor man’s food items are now dearer due to the revised tax. In the GST tariff schedule, dry fish missed out being classified along with essential items of mass consumption and was included in the lowest five per cent slab.

On Monday, shopkeepers at Kasimedu fish market returned ten tons of dry fish worth nearly Rs 10,00,000 to dealers saying they could not pay the tax.

“There are about 1,500 boats that catch fish daily and the dry fish dealers buy most of the small fish and give them after drying to numerous shopkeepers in the area for ready cash. But, on Monday, the dwellers said goods are taxed and they cannot purchase till the issue is addressed,” said M. Vijesh, general secretary, Boat Owners Association.

While on Monday, the fish were returned, the next day, there was absolutely no sale of small fish. Fishermen rue that some fish, which can only be used for dry fish are being left to rot now.

“The concept of dry fish is not to incur the losses. With no proper facilities available to store the fishes, most of the leftover fishes are dried and sold. This move will lead to a lot of wastage of fish,” said S. Selvam, a fisherman. Moreover, with monsoon approaching, wild seas will stop boats from venturing out and dry fish is the main source to earn. This is a huge blow to them.Adding to the woes, five per cent tax is levied on nylon ropes used for fishing. Vijesh said in rough winds, they would have to change their nets daily. Each time, they would shell five per cent extra now.

The fishermen community is approaching the fishing department the coming week to talk about the issue. On the other hand, another favorite delicacy ofTamil Nadu, kadala mittai is levied 18 per cent GST. The cottage industry is at a standstill for the past three days.

“A kilogram of peanut candy is priced at Rs 140. At 18 per cent GST, the price should be hiked by another Rs 30 at least. The buyers would go for alternative option and abandon us,” said P. Karthikeyan, manufacturer of peanut candy.The production has completely stopped in the pass three days and the manufacturers have called for a one-day strike on Thursday.

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