After the abolition of the Freight Equalisation Policy (FEP) that proved to be a bane for industries in Batala, the passage of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill by Parliament is likely to take some burden off the ailing foundry industry that was once famous for its quality machines.
Even as the proposed GST bill, which seeks to replace all indirect taxes with a uniform levy, was facing tough opposition from the Congress and the Left in Parliament, the Batala foundry industry is buoyed by the prospects that the GST will be presenting them, as they believe it will help them restore the lost glory of this industrial town.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Bharat Foundrymen Association chairman Jawahar Marwaha said: “Once the GST bill becomes an Act, there will be uniform tax rates across the country, which will bring some uniformity in the prices of goods across the country.”
“At present, the prices of goods depend on the tax levied by the state governments, which keep on changing from time to time and from state to state. However, after the GST comes into being, the states will not be able to change the rate of taxes. The GST will convert the entire country into a single market and will facilitate smooth transfer of goods from one state to the other,” he added.
Recalling the old glory of Batala small scale industry, Marwaha said: “Batala used to exist on the Industrial map of the world for its quality machines. With an area of just 5 km, it was the biggest small scale industrial town in Asia. It used to consume more than 50% of the total pig iron production of our country. After Calcutta, Batala was the only town in undivided India where the casting of pig iron was held.
“All was well till 1980, however, within a decade, the industry was hit both by terrorism and withdrawal of the FEP in respect of iron and steel in 1992, which had maintained uniform price of steel in various parts of the country,” he recounted.
“The proposed GST bill will also put to end the Inspector Raj, which is eating up the industry like termite and each unit has to keep the inspectors in good humour for survival,” said Jaswinder Singh Nagi, general secretary, Foundrymen Industry Association.
“Industrialists will get relived from filing various departmental returns like VAT, which will not only save their time but also reduced burden on them,” he claimed.