Traders force govt to negotiating table on GST simplification
NAGPUR: Taking a lesson from farmers, traders have garnered enough numbers to force the government to the negotiating table to simplify Goods and Services Tax (GST) rules.
On Monday, trade leaders held a meeting where the government was represented by finance secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey and chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) PC Mody. A separate meeting was held with M Ajit Kumar, chairman of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).
The campaign against GST is being led by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), an umbrella organization of trade associations across the country. CAIT has leanings towards the Sangh Parivar, and had carried out campaigns to boycott Chinese goods along with Swadeshi Jagran Manch.
“We held a three-day traders meet at Nagpur attended by over 300 trade association leaders. One of them was Pradeep Singhal, who heads the transporters’ guild. It was decided that traders will go on a one-day strike on February 26. Even Singhal announced they would bring transport to a halt, stopping all deliveries for a day. The very next day we got a message from the government,” said BC Bhartia, national president of CAIT.
“It has been decided to hold another round of talks in first week of March. The real talks will happen if representatives of ministry of finance come. CBDT and CBIC are mere executing agencies,” he said.
On political affiliation, Bhatia said CAIT is purely a traders association. Some months ago, CAIT had thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public function in New Delhi for bringing trade-friendly amendments.
Now, CAIT has called for the countrywide trade bandh on February 26 against GST, calling it a very complicated tax that has made the lives of traders miserable. They want the central government to immediately simplify it.
Bhartia said the Centre introduced GST to make taxation system simple. “However, since its introduction 900 changes have been made, which has made GST the most complicated tax in the world. Moreover, GST officers continue to come to traders’ establishments with warrants and scrutinize records for hours during peak business hours. The government talk about faceless tax system is all rubbish,” he told TOI.
Bhartia spoke specifically of two notifications of December 2020 and January 2021, which were detrimental to traders as they restrict a businessman from filing returns and deprive him of input tax credit (ITC), and also his number can be suspended without show cause notice.
He also noted there is no provision for claim of ITC after six months from end of the year. “Right to claim ITC should not be restricted by time,” said Bhartia.
CAIT is also opposed to amendment to Section 129(1) (a), which enhances penalty from 100% to 200% for releasing detained or seized goods. Other amendments would also punish mistakes by traders in figures in returns.
Source: Times of India