Seafood exporters announce protest programme

Kochi, February 8:

The Seafood Exporters Association Of India (SEAI) has decided to shut down all operations for three days from February 13 to protest a recent amendment to the Income Tax Act.

The amendment converts duty entitlement passbook (DEPB) income on export turnover above Rs 100 million Indian Currency (IC) ($2.2 million) as taxable income.

The shutdown will involve 350 seafood units that would neither purchase nor engage in any production activity, SEAI president Abraham Tharakan said. “If the three-day long token strike does not earn dividends then we will go ahead with an indefinite strike,” Tharakan said, “The amendment as cruel and any benefits they got were passed on to aquaculture farms and fishermen.”

As the industry sees it, the tax impact could work out to be in the region of Rs 5 billion IC as the new amendment has retrospective effect from April 1, 1997, when the DEPB came into being. “Assuming that about 20 per cent of seafood exporters might not fall into the bracket of Rs 100 million IC and above, others would have to raise Rs 4 billion IC,” said George C Ninan, president of SEAI’s Karnataka and Goa unit. He added that duty drawbacks applicable to other export items like textiles were not applicable to the marine products sector.