Con­sumers can now com­plain against firms hik­ing prices on GST pre­text

But de­tailed ap­pli­ca­tion could prove to be tricky for con­sumers

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS - SURABHI

Con­sumers now have re­course against ar­bi­trary price hikes by from man­u­fac­tur­ers un­der the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) with the gov­ern­ment no­ti­fy­ing the form for com­plaints to the Na­tional An­tiProf­i­teer­ing Author­ity.

The form re­quires ba­sic de­tails of the com­plainant, the seller or sup­plier and the prod­uct in­volved as well as in­for­ma­tion such as the GST Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber (GSTIN) and the tax com­po­nent.

“Af­fected con­sumers may file an ap­pli­ca­tion, in the pre­scribed for­mat, be­fore the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on An­tiprof­i­teer­ing if the prof­i­teer­ing has all-In­dia char­ac­ter or be­fore the State Screen­ing Com­mit­tees if the prof­i­teer­ing is of lo­cal na­ture,” said the Cen­tral Board of Ex­cise and Cus­toms in a re­cent note.

How­ever, many other de­tails re­quired could prove to make fil­ing com­plaints a com­pli­cated ex­er­cise for com­mon peo­ple and even small busi­nesses, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

While some de­tails such as the HSN Code of the com­mod­ity and in­put tax ben­e­fit are op­tional, oth­ers such as the de­tailed pre- and post-GST tax per unit could be chal­leng­ing for many peo­ple as well as small busi­nesses.

“Spec­ify the post-GST re­duc­tion in Tax per unit by de­duct­ing post-GST tax amount per unit from pre-GST tax amount per unit as cal­cu­lated above,” ex­plains the ap­pli­ca­tion form.

All ap­pli­ca­tions would also have to be ac­com­pa­nied with copies of self-at­tested doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dences like proof of iden­tity, in­voice, price list and de­tailed work­ing sheet.

“The form should be so sim­ple that even a lay­man should be able to file it in plain words with the req­ui­site bill or voucher. De­tailed cal­cu­la­tions can be sought at a later stage if the com­plaint finds merit. At present, the form may dis­cour­age peo­ple from fil­ing any com­plaints on anti-prof­i­teer­ing,” said Praveen Khan­de­wal, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary, CAIT, who is also a mem­ber of the GST Law panel.

“Ap­pli­ca­tion form re­quires de­tailed in­for­ma­tion such as sale price (pre- and post-GST), taxes (pre- and post-GST), ben­e­fits of in­put cred­its. It also ap­pears that sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tion may need to be filed for each good and/or ser­vices in ref­er­ence to which anti-prof­i­teer­ing is al­leged,” noted Ab­hishek Jain, Tax Part­ner, EY.

Oth­ers how­ever, be­lieve that the form is not very com­pli­cated. “The in­ten­tion of the gov­ern­ment be­hind is­su­ing this form and con­sti­tut­ing the anti-prof­i­teer­ing author­ity is to curb in­fla­tion post GST. How­ever, the plethora of de­tails re­quired to be fur­nished in the said ap­pli­ca­tion form may very well de­ter such honest in­ten­tions.

“But, at the same, aim­ing to sim­plify the com­plaint form for con­sumers, certain de­tails that are not usu­ally ac­ces­si­ble have been kept op­tional,” said Tanushree Roy, As­so­ci­ate Di­rec­tor, Nan­gia & Co.

The Na­tional Anti-Prof­i­teer­ing Author­ity was ap­proved by the Cabi­net re­cently. Se­nior IAS of­fi­cer BN Sharma was ap­pointed as Chair­man of the author­ity along with four mem­bers on Novem­ber 28. Ap­pli­ca­tions if found to have merit will be in­ves­ti­gated and pro­ceed­ing against the erring com­pany would be ini­ti­ated. If found to be guilty, the Author­ity can not only pe­nalise the com­pany and or­der a roll back of the price hike but can only can­cel its li­cence.

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