The government on Wednesday released an anti-profiteering application form (APAF-1) for consumers to complain against profiteering under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. Using the form, which has been released by Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), consumers would be able to complain against cases of inadequate commensurate reduction of prices of goods or/and services even after a cut in GST rate or availment of benefit of input tax credit by companies/service providers.
Affected consumers may file the application before the state screening committees if the profiteering is of local nature or standing committee on anti-profiteering if the profiteering is of all-India character, the CBEC said.
The three-page form has columns for consumers to fill in their details along with details of the registered supplier who has not passed on the benefit. Among the mandatory information needed to be filled by the complainants is the actual price/value charged per unit before and after GST, the form showed. It also asks for details pertaining to the tax levied on the good/service before and after GST and the post-GST reduction in amount of tax per unit.
The release of the form comes after last week’s appointment of Chairman and members of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority, which is the apex body to look into anti-profiteering complaints. Headed by Revenue Department’s senior IAS officer B N Sharma, the national anti-profiteering authority has been empowered to order reduction in prices, return of the amount not passed on to the consumers with an interest rate of 18 per cent to the recipient, imposition of penalty and cancellation of registration of the supplier.
The Authority has been set up for a two-year period, which would begin from the date Sharma assumes charge as chairman. The anti-profiteering framework under the new indirect tax regime consists of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority at the top, a standing committee, screening committees in every state and Directorate General of Safeguards in the CBEC.
The move comes in the backdrop of the GST Council’s announcement last month of a cut in the rates of over 200 items, as well as a cut in the GST rate for all restaurants, barring those in starred hotels, to 5 per cent. The GST Council had cut GST rates for 178 items, mostly consumer items of daily use, from the highest tax slab of 28 per cent to 18 per cent and now only 50 items remain in the 28 per cent slab. The new GST rates came into effect from November 15.
After the GST rate cut on over 200 items last month, many consumer goods companies had instructed their trade channels to immediately cut prices for stock in trade. Last month, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had said that the companies have to ensure an immediate cut in prices across the retail chain to avoid facing anti-profiteering action by the government.