SRINAGAR: It is the third week since the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was introduced in the state but chaos over its implementation continues. The trader community is caught in a bind, having decided to reject the tax but at the same time unable to do business without it.
“There is a fight going on from our side against the GST but the movement of trade cannot stop. Some traders have already become part of the new tax system. They have completed the formalities and registered themselves for the GST,” a member of Jammu and Kashmir Coordination Committee (JKCC), an amalgam of trade bodies and civil society groups opposed to the GST, told Kashmir Reader.
“Due to this chaos, a common trader does not know what he should do. A new tax regime comes with a different administrative setup. Even those who were regularly paying taxes to the government are facing difficulties because of the new system,” he said.
Many business sectors have already started to charge the GST, which includes services that were not taxed earlier. The most common incidence of GST is on mobile phone services. On every recharge, an 18 percent GST is charged, a percentage of tax not levied earlier. Now on a recharge of Rs 100 a consumer only gets Rs 82 as talktime, as against Rs 97 in the earlier tax regime.
Kashmiri importers are struggling because some items which were not taxed earlier have been taxed now.
“It is a big mess. We have to fight against the government because the GST has eroded the state’s fiscal autonomy, and at the same time against the new tax rates. If we reject the tax rates, there will be no trade and the economy will suffer, unemployment will rise. We are looking at that part, too,” said Ashiq Hussain, former chairman of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, whose business is dependent on imports.
The state government has not even responded to the JKCC’s opposition of the state.
When Kashmir Reader tried to contact Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Finance Secretary Navin Kumar, their phones were switched off.