While a large number of items in 18 per cent and 29 per cent tax slab have become dearer after the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), the relaxation of six months given to the traders to exhaust the old stock has come handy to unscrupulous businessmen resorting to overcharging.
Complaints of cheating and overcharging by traders, who are charging new tax rates on old stocks, are pouring in and customers are at the receiving end. “I went to buy shoes for my daughter in a shop offering a discount upto 40 per cent but when we finalised the product, the salesmen said the discount was 20 per cent giving me an impression that it would cost around Rs 800 plus tax for the product that was costing Rs 1,000. When I went to pay the bill, I was shocked to see that the amount was Rs 975 and the shopkeeper said it was due to the GST’ says Aman Mehta, a local resident. “I got all four tyres of my vehicle replaced and I had to shell out Rs 12,800 against Rs 9,800 paid last time and was given a kachha bill on the pretext that the new bill book was yet to be received” said another resident Hem Kumar.
However, the consumers are not the only one on the receiving end and even the businessmen are also having a hard time. As many as 90 per cent of the small traders who are not dealing with branded items are suffering and to add to it the accountants have doubled their fees stating that the work is doubled says Shimla Beopar Mandal president, Inderjeet Singh. Cheating in the name of GST cannot be ruled out as old stock is available with the shopkeepers, he said adding that the lack of clarity on GST among the businessmen and consumers was creating problems.
LML Bhatt who deals in spectacles and reflectors says that the business has been hit as the tax on spectacles have been increased from 5 to 12 per cent while the reflectors are in the bracket of 29 per cent tax. Even the prices of pure ghee being sold by Milkfed have been hiked by Rs 50 per kg, thanks to the GST. The impact of the GST was also reflected in the consumer price index (CPI) for industrial workers (CPI-IW), which increased by five points from 245 to 250 in July, the first month of GST regime. In terms of monthly change, the CPI increased by 1.79 per cent during the month against (-) minus 1.08 per cent during the corresponding month in 2016. The inflation which was maintaining a decreasing trend also increased from 1.08 per cent to 1.79 per cent in July.However, Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner KK Sharma when contacted said a very few complaints were received and immediate action was initiated.
Action will be taken against the defaulting businessmen if complaints are received and even decoy customer will be sent to nail such shopkeepers, he added. He said the department had held interactive sessions with various groups and explained them the intricacies of the GST and in case there were any problems, departmental officers are there to help.