Bhopal: Medicine shop owners give thumbs up to GST

Bhopal: GST has not significantly impacted prices of medicines in the city. Retailers are confused but wholesalers are game. They say there are teething problems but those would get resolved gradually. They also claim that more transparent accounting procedures under the new tax regime would make pushing fake or adulterated medicines into the market difficult.

Lalit Jain, president of Bhopal Chemists’ Association, however, had a different take on the issue. He said the wholesaler chemists and druggists had largely become GST-compliant though the retailers were yet to understand the nitty-gritty of the new system. “The wholesalers have been adhering to the norms from day one,” he said. According to Jain, for the initial two or three days after the implementation of GST, there was complete confusion. “But the situation is far better and improving by the day,” he said.

Jain said there were as many as 1,411 chemists and druggists in Bhopal and it would take some time for them to become acquainted and comfortable with the new system.

Jain said as for the buyers, GST would make no difference. “The prices of drugs will remain almost the same though some drugs may get a bit costlier and the others may become slightly cheaper.” However, he said, buyers will benefit in another way. According to Jain, GST has detailed and rigorous provisions regarding billing and the matching of invoices of the buyers and the sellers. And the system is largely automated. This would mean that it would be difficult for dubious manufacturers to push adulterated, fake or non-standard drugs into the market. “That would be real boon,” he added.

Anil Shewani, owner of Ambika Medical Agency at Dawa Bazar in Hamidia Road said, “It is very good decision of government and we welcome it. The decision is in favour of common man but initially it will affect the shopkeepers and medicine firms. Earlier, we charged 5 per cent VAT on all medicines but now there is a 5- 28 per cent range applicable on different categories. If the price of a medicine is Rs 100 then we have to sell it in Rs 93. We have difference of 5 to 7 per cent but the medicine companies assured us to pay it later. Initially there was some problem updating our billing software with new tax slabs but it is okay now. The situation is same like notebandi.”

Shewani further said, “Yes, it is true that some retailers are still selling medicines on old price because they have old stocks and they don’t want make loss.”

“We have no problem in implementation of GST but the different tax slabs for medicines is creating confusion among retailers. Earlier we had five per cent VAT on all medicines, so we could assess the bill easily but now it very complex. Now, dealers are selling same medicines at different prices by saying it is inbuilt in the company,” said Hakimuddin, owner of Jain Medical Corner, Shyamla Hills adding, “Just imagine there are lakhs of types of one medicine, so its calculation is not an easy task. It will take at least take one or two months for things to become normal.”

Similarly, Anil Sodhi, manning the chemist shop at Bombay Children Hospital, Professor’s Colony said, “There is problem in billing, not implementation in GST.”

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