One year since the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented, the debate on its effect on trade and business continues.
Traders in Chandni Chowk, the hub of wholesale and retail shops in Old Delhi, had mixed opinions on the new tax regime. While some felt it has worked well, others have simply accepted it because they have no other option.
For many traders in Chandni Chowk, GST has simplified tax filing procedures and made things simpler.
Narendra Gupta, who runs a textile shop, said, “Though I had to change my CA, GST was a good step. For instance, when I make a wholesale purchase from a trader in another State, it is easier for my accountant to deal with the transaction and keep a record of the purchase.”
Sunil Kumar, a wholesaler and retailer of saris, said wholesale traders of saris and suits are mostly happy with the scheme because it has reduced return of stock.
“Earlier, clothes were often returned after four or five months from the date of exchange. But now people think twice before doing it. This is because if someone purchased the stock from Surat and wants to return it, he/ she has to generate an e-way bill and repay a GST amount, which obviously increases costs.”
‘CAs charge more’
Several shopkeepers and traders claimed their chartered accountants started charging more for services since GST came into effect. Since the system is new for most shopkeepers and traders, is completely online and has several layers, they have become completely dependent on their CAs.
“I am totally dependent on my CA. The system is complicated and has not been implemented properly. It may be good in the long term but in the short term it is chaotic,” said Manoj Gupta, who owns a sari shop in the market.
For J.P. Ahuja, who deals in stationery items apart from labels and stickers, the system of monthly payment of taxes is a headache.
“Earlier, when it had to be done quarterly, sitting with my CA once or maybe twice a month was enough. Now, I have to meet him at least once a week. This has increased costs. I can still afford it but what about small traders?”
Some businessmen like Habib, who runs an opticals business, believe they will be able to reap the real benefits of GST if tax slabs on their products are reduced.
Footwear trader Adnan said introduction of GST had made inter-State trade difficult for him.
“There is delay in stock delivery if it comes from a different State, let us say Uttar Pradesh’s Agra. Policemen on borders often demand bribes. It was much easier for us earlier,” he said.
Many traders believe that ultimately it is the consumers who has to bear the burden of this system.
“We can charge the consumers the tax amount, but what about them? They are the real sufferers,” said Gurdeep Singh, who runs a shop that deals in sewing machine parts and motors.