‘One Nation One Tax’ is finally a reality, but traders in the state seem to have a long way to go before getting accustomed to the new tax system. On Day One of GST, traders looked confused and said that the decision was taken in a hurry. They said they are clueless on how to follow the new tax system. The chaos and confusion even led to many shops, including sweet sellers and cafes, issuing handwritten bills to customers.
“Though shops were reopened today (Saturday) after our strike, they did not carry out any business. This is because many shopkeepers are yet to get their GST identification number. Traders cannot buy new products as many companies have refused to issue bills under their name without the GST identification number,” Mohammed Ayub, General Secretary of Khidderpore Merchant Welfare Association, told The Sunday Express.
Ayub said that the time of rolling out the GST should have been extended. “We are not against GST but why couldn’t the government give us enough time?” he asked.
Sweet sellers in south Kolkata said that they are yet to update their system as per GST and hence they were forced to issue handwritten bills to customers.
“Current tax rates have been replaced by GST rates. We are confused. We have issued handwritten bills and planning to hire a chartered accountant at least for the initial days. We don’t have high profit margins and it is difficult to pay someone a month’s salary just to understand a new tax system,” said an owner of a sweet shop.
He, however, said that with time people would get used to GST. “And if it’s good for the country, we are fine with it,” he added.
Several traders felt that since they are unable to charge customers according to the new tax system, it would incur them huge losses.
“How would they (small traders) cope up with this new system? I heard the prime minister saying that even a school boy knows how to operate computer but perhaps he is not aware that there are many small traders who do not have computers at homes,” Chairman of Federation of West Bengal Trade Association Mahesh Kumar Singhania told The Sunday Express.
Singhania said it would take a lot of time for small traders to get familiar with the new tax structure.
“There is a lot of confusion and chaos. I think it will take more than seven months for small traders to get back to normal business and it will cost them unnecessarily,” he added.
Meanwhile, during a programme organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Eastern India Regional Council (ERIC), CA Manish Goyal, Chairman of EIRC, said, “GST is a destination-based tax, which will change the destiny of the country. Any new law will have some problems in the beginning but with time it will settle down. In the end, it will eradicate grey and black economies.”