Bhopal: Many traders and shopkeepers kept their shops and establishments closed on Friday protesting the nation’s biggest tax reform Good and Service Tax, to be launched on the intervening night of July 1 and 2. However, it invoked mixed reactions from various quarters, with hardly anyone seen confident of its benefits.
Various trade originations had called for a state-wide bandh terming GST an anti-people tax system and demanding it be revoked while traders’ associations also terming it to be confusing.
However, the call for bandh by various unions received tepid response from small shopkeepers who seemed ignorant of the effects of GST on their business.
On one hand several retail stores across the city remained closed in some parts while many shopkeepers on the other decided to keep their establishments open.
Anand Katiyar who runs a grocery shop in Kotra said whatever effect GST would have would be seen. “I have no idea about it and I am concentrating on my business,” he added.
Akshat Gupta who runs a sweetmeat shop at Nehru Nagar Square, too expressed similar views adding the effect would be seen in time but, “We can’t suffer loss by closing our business over a thing we don’t know much about.”
‘Tax even on coffin’
District Women’s Congress president Santosh Kasana, who led a rally against the upcoming system near Board Office Square, accused the government of introducing an anti-people bill. She said the erstwhile government was also imposing GST but had considered the interests of common man. They did not even spare dead body as GST will also be applicable on ‘kafan’,” said Kasana.
‘Opposed to the way GST is being introduced’
Similar reactions were seen in Jabalpur where Prem Dube, chairman of Chamber of Commerce and Industry and national executive member of ASSOCHAM, said the way GST was being introduced was causing concern. Expressing ire over finance minister Arun Jaitley terming the traders ‘munafakhor’, Dube said despite us being one of the biggest tax payers in the state, such statement was unfortunate.
He further said, “We have no issue with taxes but what was the reason behind imposing it hurriedly? We are slightly acquainted with the new system and we need to be educated on it. If the government had given us time till March 31, 2018, the period could have been used to learn the complications of it. They made a very fast decision in the presence of members ASSOCHAM, FICCI and ICAI, which basically represent big corporate groups and there was no presence of small scale traders in the recent council meet on June 16 which was headed by Jaitley. Small businessmen will be at the receiving end of this new system.”
Concern for small traders
Meanwhile, in a press conference senior vice president of Federation of Madhya Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry Govind Goyal said, “We are not opposed to GST as we have been paying legal taxes, which is indeed our duty but we demand a systematic way of its imposition.”
Goyal further said in India, where almost 90 per cent of traders were trading in unorganised sector, “We can’t expect small scale entrepreneurs to have a staff for operating computers for keeping the data of commodities to be taxed under separate categories. On the top of that if a shopkeeper who is illiterate will have to spend extra time on managing the account which will affect his business. There are various kinds of taxes under different categories such as 3 per cent, 5 per cent, 28 per cent, 40 per cent and other and if you make purchase from a local shopkeeper various commodities at the same time, he will have to maintain account under these categories. Now that in India when there is problem of internet and computer, especially in rural belts, how can we expect them to follow the pattern,” added Goyal.
“The government has removed sales tax, entry tax outpost and now cops will stop our transporting vehicles and ask for bribe,” he added.
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