'GST curtails mobility, hampers education’: Activists protest tax on equipment for disabled


'GST curtails mobility, hampers education’: Activists protest tax on equipment for disabled
  1. 'GST curtails mobility, hampers education’: Activists protest tax on equipment for disabled
    thenewsminute.com
    GST Activists are demanding that equipment used by persons with disabilities be exempted from the GST regime.Pheba Mathew gst_final.jpgOn Sunday morning, more than 40 persons with disabilities (PWD) came out in their wheelchairs, custom-made two-wheelers, and cars in Chennai protesting against the Centre’s decision to impose GST ranging from 5 to 18% on equipment used by them. Traveling a distance of 18km, the protest drive was organised by the December 3 movement and the S…
    India

On Sunday morning, more than 40 persons with disabilities (PWD) came out in their wheelchairs, custom-made two-wheelers, and cars in Chennai protesting against the Centre’s decision to impose GST ranging from 5 to 18% on equipment used by them.

Traveling a distance of 18km, the protest drive was organised by the December 3 movement and the Shree Vari group. “We want the equipment used by persons with disabilities to be exempted from taxes. Even the cars that we use will have a tax of 18%. The Braille books are already close to Rs 500 to 600, if taxes are added to it, it will be a lot more expensive. The government is supposed to protect the rights of the people with disability,” said Deepak Nathan, an activist from December 3 movement.

Disability activist Rajiv Rajan told TNM that he wants the Centre to reconsider this step. “Persons with disabilities traditionally are known to be poor, how can you expect us to pay tax when most of us are below the poverty line. India is not an accessible country, we can't even use public transport that is why we buy adapted cars because that is the only way for many of us to go to the outside world.”

Questioning the logic behind imposing GST, Rajiv noted, “Braille typewriters and braille papers are the eyes for many of us, people who are visually impaired can't read or write without it, crutches and wheelchairs are the legs for many of us. If it is okay to pay taxes for your eyes, legs, hands, etc first do that and then ask to pay taxes for all this. The fundamental right to freedom of expression is being denied by levying GST on Braille paper & Braille typewriter don't levy GST on expression.”

Beyond the protest, the National Platform of the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) had sent a petition to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and to the Finance Ministers of many other states urging them to exempt equipment used by people with disabilities. “There were no taxes earlier, the cost of these items is going to increase because of the GST. Most equipment is already out of the reach of the disabled population, because of this more people will be unable to afford it,” said Muralidharan V, general secretary National Platform of the Rights of the Disabled.

Pointing out that puja items including rudrakash have been exempted from GST, Muralidharan says, “On one hand they are giving exemptions to some items but imposing taxes on those that are essential. Without it, mobility is curtailed, and education is hampered. It is not acceptable.”

However, a manufacturer of the wheelchairs told The News Minute that the GST may in fact reduce the cost of equipment, if manufacturers are willing to pass on the benefits they receive to the customer. “It depends on the tax on raw materials, what is going to be GST level and how much input tax credit will help, whether the person is a trader or a manufacturer and whether the person has a turnover less than Rs 70 lakhs or more than that or what is the excise duty saving is going to be. On the whole, for wheelchairs, I personally feel that the excise duty an…

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