In pursuance of the call of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) for Bharat Vyapar Bandh, today met with a great grand success across the Country when more than 8 crore small businesses belonging to about 40 thousand trade associations across the Country kept their shutters closed and no trading activity took place in any commercial market of the Country. The call of Bharat Vyapar Bandh was given by CAIT to lodge strong protest of the business community against some of the arbitrary and draconian amendments made in GST Rules on 22nd December and thereafter and demanding their immediate deferment.
The CAIT also protested against unethical business practices of foreign e-commerce companies who are continuously and openly violating the FDI policy much to the disadvantage of domestic trade of the Country. The CAIT has demanded immediate issuance of a new Press Note to replace Press Note No.2 of the FDI policy plugging the loopholes and escape route to e-commerce companies who are bent upon in violating the law and policy and feels that Indian laws are weak which can be twisted to their side and that too after repeated warning of Union Commerce Minister Shri Piyush Goyal.
The commercial markets across the Country wore a deserted look as Vyapar Bandh was observed by traders of all States from East to West and North to South India presenting a united and firm voice to both Central Government, State Governments and GST Council that colonisation of GST tax system will lead to disruption in trade and economy.In all States, both wholesale and retail markets remained closed today restricting Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumers (B2C) to a minimal level since supply & distribution of essential commodities, Chemist shops, General Store supplying Milk & Dairy products were excluded from the purview of the Vyapar Bandh. All India Transport Welfare Association (AITWA), All India FMCG Products Distributors Federation, All India Women Entrepreneurs Association, Hawkers Joint Action Committee, All India Computer Media Dealers Association, Federation of All India Vegetable Oil Dealers Association, National Small Industries Association and large number of other national and state level Organisations all over India participated in Vyapar Bandh. In total nearly 8 crore traders, 1 crore transporters, 3 crore hawkers and nearly 75 lakhs small Industries all over India kept their business premises closed.
CAIT National President Shri B C Bhartia and Secretary General of CAIT Shri Praveen Khandelal while claiming the tremendous success of the Bharat Vyapar Bandh said that the arbitrary and unfettered powers given to tax officials will bring Inspector Raj in the Country once again and instead of using it against the tax offenders , the harassment and victimisation of the honest and tax complying traders can not be ruled out on the basis of trader’s past experience. The CAIT has demanded that the controversial provisions of GST Rules should be kept in abeyance and traders should be taken into confidence before bringing any amendment in law or the rules. The CAIT also said that the current tax base under GST and revenue accrued from this tax base is highly underrated and can be doubled but the GST tax system needs to be simplified and rationalised and cooperation of trade associations is sought for a harmonious partnership.The CAIT is of the considered opinion that tax offenders and tax evaders must be given exemplary punishment. Any person dealing in fake invoices must face the strictest action as they bring much discredit and unfair competition to honest & tax complying traders but the distinction between ‘error’ and ‘evasion’ should be spelled out clearly.
Spelling out the complexity of GST law and rules, Shri Bhartia & and Shri Khandelwal said that ” the GST which was announced on 1st July 2017 was a simple tax in real terms currently but with more than 1000 amendments in the last four years has made GST a complex system much beyond the understanding of a common trader. ” We challenge the Finance Minister of any State to fill the GST return form without the help of any tax expert on any public platform?-said the CAIT leaders. Though GST Council can revise GST law & rules in such huge numbers but traders are not allowed to revise their GST returns even at least for one time. The vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for making GST, a good & simple tax has been tarnished by the GST Council. Both leaders said that forced compliance is an artificial barrier to growth of business. The law and the rules should be inclusive and an inspiration for voluntary compliance. “-said the trade leaders. The laws and the rules are made for 5% people who are habitual offenders in any system but the law or the rules are used against 95% other people who are complying the law.
Mr. Bhartia & Mr. Khandelwal said that if these amendments are not put in abeyance, in all likelihood there will be a shortfall in revenue from regulau businesses as the GST numbers will get suspended even for an unintentional error. It is an open fact that Government Departments and PSUs under the Government don’t in time then how they expect traders to make payment of taxes in time. We urge upon both the Central and State Government to draw a chart of payments made by Departments under both Governments and PSUs under them, the real picture will emerge. Further , when there is a provision for late fees and interest then why the suspension or cancellation of GST number of the traders. It is also to be noted that the Government is collecting 18% interest on late fees but the Banks are giving interest to people almost nearly about 8% on savings of the people.The another question is that the traders are accountable for even a small lapse but there is no accountability of the tax officials. This discretionary power has lowered down the traders even with dreaded terrorist Ajmal Kasab who was given exercise of last resort and the Supreme Court was opened at 2.00 am to hear him whereas in the instant case, the tax authorities are not obliged to give either a notice or hearing opportunity. What kind of democracy are we talking about ? The silver line of Indian jurisprudence is ” May 100 offenders go scot free but no honest and innocent person should be convicted” . This silver line has not been maintained in GST rules. For the misdeeds or failure to comply with the law by selling dealers, the purchasing dealer will be penalised that means the system of the GST Council is a failure to detect the law offenders and therefore they have made honest and tax complying traders a scapegoat. This unique law exists in India only over the globe and the GST Council boasts that it is a Good and simple tax. The GST returns form is very much complicated. “
Mr. Bhartia & Mr. Khandelwal said that CAIT has demanded the Central Government, State Governments and the GST Council that the controversial amendments be kept in abeyance, and trade associations may be taken in confidence at the time of bringing any amendment. Further, to ensure effective implementation of GST and ensuring to provide a conducive business atmosphere, the Government should constitute a GST Committee comprising officials and trade representatives bot at the Central level and State level and a similar GST Committee at every District in the Country.