FROM THE PRESIDENT’S DESK
Some major concessions and revisions have been announced by the GST Council, to make life easier for compliance, and to reverse some irrational decisions taken earlier. None of these affect our Industry, but I would like to congratulate the Government for their bold steps. Cynics might shrug these changes off to the coming elections in Gujarat, but I would like to give credit to the fact that the Government is actually listening! CMAI has been consistently of the opinion that GST is good for the Economy, good for the Industry, and good for the common man in the long run. However, it would be foolish to deny that there were some inexplicable complexities built in, both in the rate structure and in the processes, in the original version. Many of these have been addressed so far, and many more remain. But, as I said, for the first time we have a Government which is actually listening to the views of the Industry and taking corrective action. Kudos to the Government for this. I am happy to share that CMAI was successful in persuading the Government to change the classification of unstitched Salwar Kameez from Garments to Fabrics. Under the original structure, Sarees were classified as Fabrics, attracting 5% GST irrespective of its price. On the other hand, unstitched Salwar Kameez were classified as Garments – hence subject to 12% GST if priced over Rs.1000. Along with several other Associations, CMAI represented to the Council to modify this obvious discrimination, and to their credit, the Council agreed to our view. Unstitched Salwars will now be at 5% GST, irrespective of their price. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, Import Duty on Used and Worn Clothing has been brought down from 12% to 5%. CMAI has consistently held that India needs to control the imports of used Clothing – not only does it impact the Domestic Industry, it is also a health hazard for the consumers, apart from being a vehicle to bring in fresh goods on a much reduced Duty Structure. It is shocking that whilst import duties of most other Textile items have been raised, this particular item has been singled out for reduction – when there was neither a need nor a demand! The markets post Diwali have been struggling. Most Brands reporting either a flat growth or de-growth. The plethora of Mid Season Sale offers is a sure sign of stuck inventory and sluggish sales. But one clear trend that is emerging is the dominance of the Value Formats. These are the formats which seem to be holding their own in spite of the weak sentiments. I wonder if this is an indicator of the future! By the way, I owe an apology to my good friend Pankaj Shah of Buffalo Jeans. When I wrote my tribute to Shantilal Shah, I had mentioned that he was the man who had launched Buffalo. In fact Buffalo was the brain child of his brother, Pankaj. I have no doubt Shantibhai would have blessed, guided, and inspired Pankaj like he indeed did with everyone who came in his contact, and Pankaj would be the first to acknowledge the respect the entire industry had for Shantibhai. However, credit must go to the Pankaj for being one of the pioneers in the Indian Jeans Industry.