The Centre’s move to bring the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) under the purview of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) did not go well with traders. They fear that those who pay GST can now be under the scanner of ED under PMLA (on the pretext of fraud).
While traders in many parts of the country are opposing the move, traders at Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) termed it 'tax terrorism'.
Traders say the Government is creating fear
Bhimji Bhanushali, secretary of the Grain, Rice & Oilseeds, Merchants’ Association (GROMA) said that the government is creating fear among traders and businessmen. “While on one hand, the government shows it is taking businessmen into confidence, on the other hand it brings one more agency to look into the day to day affairs of businessmen,” said Bhanushali, adding that the whole traders’ community is opposing the move.
However, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), Maharashtra has termed such fears as unfounded and illogical as the reading of the notification does not bring any coercive action of ED against traders.
CAIT, Maharashtra unit admits that the recent notification of the government empowering the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to obtain data from GSTN has created panic and fear among the trading community across the country that now they will face one more department and will be subjected to the scrutiny of ED.
FIU engages with ED
CAIT says that as per the notification, it is the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that engages with the ED like various other agencies and government departments. The FIU assumes a pivotal role in receiving, meticulously processing, astutely analysing, and effectively disseminating information related to potentially illicit financial transactions. Consequently, both prominent and modest traders may face questioning or investigation by the ED if they are deemed culpable following scrutiny by the unwavering gaze of the FIU.
However, traders are apprehensive and they fear that even small mistakes will land them ED net and this might affect their business. “We will continue under fear as one more agency is looking at our transactions minutely,” said a trader from the Grain market in APMC Vashi.