Bhopal: The city traders, whom Free Press talked to, expressed their grave reservations about the Goods and Services tax (GST), which is to be rolled out all over the country from July 1. The traders said that they don’t have any problems with GST per se but the procedures under the GST regime were tortuous and the penalties too harsh. Some of them said it is the traders who had made the BJP governments possible and now the same government is hurting their interests. They also fear that GST may bring back ‘Inspector Raj’. Most of the business establishments in the city remained closed on Thursday on the call of trade and business organisations protesting the implementation of GST.

Satish Gangrade, president of New Market Vyapari Sangh told Free Press “The tax is anti-trader. There are many loopholes in the law and the procedures are very lengthy and complicated. As per GST, traders will have to file returns thrice every month and that too on a particular date, else they will have to pay penalty. Not only this, they will also have to fill in a detailed form. How is it possible? Every trader or businessman is not so educated. He further said, “The same tax was first introduced by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during UPA government with 14 per cent tax slab. At that time Modiji was the chief minister of Gujarat and the BJP had opposed GST. Now, the same party is imposing the same tax with 28 per cent tax slab. It is traders who had made the BJP governments possible and now the government has become our enemy. They are doing wrong.”

“Who will take the pain of filling forms thrice a month? The prices of pulses, rice, oil, sugar and other grocery items will increase if the government implements the tax. It is neither good for the traders nor for the public,” said Mukesh Mundra, said Manoj Kumar, owner of rice and pulse wholesale shop at Hanumanganj in Old City.

Similarly, Vijay Rathore, owner of Mahendra Trading Company, Jumerati in Old City says said, “See, we are not hesitating to pay tax. The rules and laws of the tax are so lengthy and difficult that we will have to appoint an accountant and hire the services of a tax consultant. It is very time consuming.

The GST may be good for big businessman or corporates but not for small or mid-level shopkeepers.” Rathore further says “In case, if we don’t pay the tax in given time then there is provision for penalty and punishment. I think, the rules should be simple and clear or else the GST may bring back Inspector Raj.”

“We have five demands from government regarding the tax. First, the tax should be same in across the country. Secondly, criminal cases should not be lodged against the traders. Thirdly, there should be only two per cent tax on pulses, rice, oil and sugar. The returns should be required to be filed once a month”, said Motiram Wadhwani, president of MP Pulse and Rice Traders Association adding “if the government meet our genuine demands then the government will benefit. It will also check corruption. Most of the traders couldn’t complete online registration due to technical problems. Today was the last date of registration.”

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