Mixed opinions as many Kolkata traders confused, clueless about GST

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Kolkata, July 1 (IANS) On the first day of business under the GST regime on Saturday, there was mixed reaction from traders — iconic outlets to the small roadside shops — in Kolkata but many complained of being totally clueless about the new system.

While some jacked up prices to pass on the enhanced tax rates to the consumers, others said they were bearing losses, unable to fathom the billing procedure.

But Flury’s, the legendary tearoom on fashionable Park Street, said everything was smooth at their outlet.

“We are not at all feeling the GST impact. In the chocolates category, there is a slight increase because the GST slab for chocolates is 28 per cent. But the prices of most of the products are the same,” Chef Vikas Kumar told IANS.

“Everything is very smooth so far,” he added.

Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick, the famed shop of traditional Bengali sweets in south Kolkata’s Bhowanipore, said it has started taking GST from the customers, though the entire system was not yet clear.

“We are yet to install the software. We are updating the system. Things are not fully clear to me,” a spokesman told IANS over phone.

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The outlet was selling its popular aam-doi (mango-yoghurt) for Rs 31.50 by adding five per cent GST to the original price of Rs 30.00.

“Similarly, in case of chocolate based sweets, we are adding 28 per cent GST to the previous prices and then explaining it to our customers,” he said.

But Raj Kriplani, a cosmetic shop owner, seemed tense, even as he lauded the new indirect tax regime.

“In my opinion, GST will be good for country and it will bring transparency. But we are going through a lot of confusion while implementing it. It seems all products have different rates. Also, we have an added job of starting the billing procedure from scratch. That will take a couple of weeks.” Kriplani said.

The proprietor of Maya electronics, a mobile retailer in suburban Agarpara, expressed apprehension that the new system might hit the industry adversely.

“The implementation of GST can take a toll on the industry and also on the retailers due to the changed tax structure. A number of mobile phone brands have reduced production by 10-15 per cent to avoid oversupply,” he said.

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“Dealers, on the other hand, are now refusing to stock products of manufacturers that either aren’t GST-registered or haven’t come clear on GST cover for old stock. There is also an amount of uncertainty over margins and that is stopping retailers and distributors from stocking up,” the proprietor told IANS on condition of anonymity.

The manager of an electronics shop, Genesis, in south Kolkata’s Tollygunge, said they would have to wait and watch whether television and air-conditioner sales take a hit after taxes on both products shot up to 28 per cent under GST as against the 26 per cent tax levied earlier.

“The hike in price might be an issue with regard to ACs, but we will have to wait and watch. It’s too early to comment.

“As far as television is concerned, well it’s an all time high purchase product. Let’s monitor consumer behaviour for some time. We are in a quandary,” a shop employee said.

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A local saloon in Netaji Nagar was mulling increasing rates if they had to buy shaving cream paying more price post GST.

“We will take a call accordingly. We don’t want to increase haircut prices but we could be forced to. Our hands are tied,” the saloon owner said.

A medicine shop in South Kolkata, that does roaring business daily, complained that the “abrupt GST launch” has landed them in a soup.

“We are at our wit’s end to figure out how to sync ourselves with the new system. We have applied for our GST number, but not yet received it. We have no idea when they (the authorities) will give it.

“They have started the new system abruptly. We are clueless on how we will bill the customers now, what will be the quantum of tax. Even our accountants are in the dark,” said the manager, who requested that neither the shop nor he should be named in the report.



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