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Traders find GST switchover not simple but taxing

Image result for trichy restaurants
(Representative image)
As the goods and services tax (GST) heralded a new dawn in the nation's taxation system, it turned out to be business as usual for most commercial establishments in the city on Saturday as they struggled to adapt to the new regime. They were forced to continue from where they left the previous night and made no change in prices of commodities. Among those who were left clueless were malls, electronic and electrical outlets and even medical shops.
For the government and tax officials though, a silver lining came in the form of hotels most of whom amended their tax system the minute it was rolled out on Saturday midnight. "Almost every sector is not sure about the impact of this major tax reform. We are mainly dealing with garments. So far there was no tax for garments. But as per GST we have to pay 5 per cent tax. But we don't know whether to charge over and above the MRP or the purchase price. If we charge the 5 per cent above MRP we will lose our customers", said an accounts officer of a mall in the city. Almost all textile shops were bogged down by a similar confusion. Moreover, they were working to install a new software overnight, he added.

Restaurants implemented GST from midnight itself. For low-cost and non-AC restaurants, the tax rate is 12 per cent as against 6 per cent earlier for food bill. For AC restaurants the rate is 18 per cent. "Trichy has both low-cost as well as non-AC restaurants. We commenced GST last night. Usually dosa costs between Rs 45 and Rs 65. Post-GST, customers have to shell out Rs 5.40 to Rs 7.80 more. If earlier we charged Rs 11 for an idly, now a customer should pay Rs 1.32 additionally. Coffee which cost Rs 22 earlier will now cost Rs 24.64", said K Natarajan, cashier of a restaurant located at Central bus stand.
Meanwhile, S Mathiazhagan, manager of a mobile phone showroom, said uncertainty loomed on the taxes they had to pay. "The manufacturers have reportedly cut down production to avoid excess supply. Dealers opted not to stock new pieces doubting whether they can sell them for existing price or as per GST. Many branded mobiles have not been provided GST cover yet", he added.
Meanwhile, there was great confusion at the cargo terminal in Trichy international airport following instructions from customs authorities to immediately operate Electronic Data Interchange in the wake of GST rollout. As none from the customs department who operated the system had the required knowledge to upload cargo agents and exporters, about 10 tonnes of perishables could not be lifted on Saturday, said an official.
"We have been demanding the facility for the last five years. Airport authorities established the required infrastructure a year ago. However, the customs authorities who are solely responsible for handling the new system were not at all serious about imparting training to operate EDI. Due to their negligence and lethargic approach, we incurred heavy loss today", said an importer on condition of anonymity.


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