On Saturday, as the capital got its first taste of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), traders expressed hope for the road ahead, but also expressed some doubts on how to implement the new system. Founded on the concept of “one nation, one market, one tax”, the Centre has maintained that the GST will be beneficial to consumers by bringing down prices, curbing inflation and, ultimately, reducing delays in tax payments. At Chandni Chowk, Sanjay Bhargava, the general secretary of Chandni Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal, maintained — like most others — that the GST was a positive step.
But he added, “I work in the textile sector where procurement of fabric has not been taxable until now. Earlier, special excise duty was charged on textile but only on dispatching of fabric by manufacturers. Moreover, most dealings are done manually and people don’t have access to computers. They don’t know how GST needs to be implemented. This could create problems in compliance.” At Sadar Bazar, the largest wholesale market in the capital, there were a few first-day hiccups.
Some traders said they were still waiting for their GST identification number, while others — who have never used a computer — said they were grappling with the new software. “I am not quite sure how this software works. I have never used a computer before because I would use books to keep records. I am 67 now; it’s tough for me to learn all of this,” said Somesh Jain of Jain Traders, which deals in wholesale plastic work. Some chemists in Delhi expressed uncertainty about the impact it would have on business. “We have decided to first finish what we have left, and have stopped billing for the time being. We have not called for fresh stock right now,” said a chemist at Batra Medicos in Saket.
Many restaurants and bars shut early on Friday, while others said they introduced the new rules after midnight. Take, for instance, Hard Rock Cafe, which remains open till 1 am. “New rules and rates were applied from today morning. For customers who were there post 12 am, we took the decision to clear their bills before midnight. So we let them sit till after midnight, but they were charged the old rates before GST was to come into effect. We think our revenue will increase because more people will come since taxes have reduced,” said Suresh Kumar, manager of the Saket Branch.
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Manish Sisodia has expressed some apprehensions over the “hurry” in implementation of GST. A government official maintained, “Prices, we feel, might go up in many cases and that is not what was envisioned. We hope the confusion clears in the coming days, and we are doing all we can for it.”