Seafood should be treated as agricultural produce and exempted from the GST, proposed to come in force from April 1, 2017, said an official of a marine products exporters association.
Seafood Exporters Association of India’s Secretary General Elias Sait told IANS that the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has been demanding the “exemption of seafood products from the GST” before the bill is implemented.
“The authority has been doing a detailed analysis of the impact of GST on the marine industry,” he said on the sidelines of the three-day-long 20th edition of the India International Seafood Show, jointly organised by the MPEDA and the SEAI, which began here Friday.
Intended to provide a valuable forum for exchange of experiences and exposure to new technologies which will intimately help in boosting exports of the country’s marine products, the IISS is also aimed at boosting India’s aquaculture industry with the US, EU, Southeast Asia, Japan and China as major partners.
This year’s seafood show has been organised with the theme of “Safe and Sustainable Indian Aquaculture” to project the quality of aquaculture.
According to another industry expert, there is a need for value addition in the seafood market and the country must provide more processed food products to boost the growth of the marine products industry.
Citing MPEDA statistics, Raghavan Ramabadran, a Chennai-based partner in law firm Lakshmikumaran and Sridharan, which is an advisor to the SEIA, said: “India exports less than one per cent ready to be tabled marine products. They are further processed and labelled under a foreign brand. This makes India a consumer country and not a manufacturer.”
The exported products contain preservatives to increase the shelf life but are not completely processed, and are being transported in raw form only, he said.
India, being the world’s seventh largest seafood producer, needs to increase value added operations in the marine industry and promote sustained small scale aquaculture through empowerment of farmers, said Ramabadran.
“The processing operations should be encouraged in the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. It will not only create employment but also boost the growth of the seafood industry,” he added.