On July 1, two things changed for traders of electronic goods in Old Delhi’s busy markets—they opened their store after four days of bandh and more importantly, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) came into force. However, the traders seemed indifferent to changes.
Owners and workers in the shops could be seen going about their business as usual. “We have just opened the shop, as you can see many are still opening. Though there are not many customers today, let’s see how GST affect us. It will take some time to understand it,” said Deepak who owns a DVD and cassette shop.
However, the owner of Anshul Enterprises was confident that the GST won’t affect them in any major way. He said, “There isn’t going to be much impact of GST. We used to pay VAT which was also high, we will pay tax according to the new structure. For us, it’s the same.”
The traders in the Lala Lajpat Rai Market and Bhagirath Palace import goods from China. Both the markets are the largest hub in Delhi for cheap Chinese electrical items.
“Let them (people opposing GST) cry and shout. It is just for four days. With time everything will get to the usual,” said Gaurav Kapoor of Ram Electronics.
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Electronic goods have been put in the highest tax slab of 28 percent under the GST. This is about 6 percent more than what it used to be earlier. Many of the trade unions active in Old Delhi had declared bandh for four days since June 26, protesting against the change.
Few of the traders are of opinion that taxes under GST can be evaded as well as loopholes would certainly surface. “Sab undervaluation pe aayega. 1000 ke maal ko 100 ka dikha do. Pehle bhi hota tha ab bhi hoga. Kuchh dino ki baat hai. Yeh India hai, here you cannot teach a crab to walk straight. (The items will be shown to be purchased at a lower value. On paper, just show the value as Rs 100 instead of Rs 1000. It used to happen earlier, will happen now as well. It is just matter of days. This is India, here you cannot teach a crab to walk straight.),” added Gaurav Kapoor, nonchalantly.
Since there is no guarantee or warranty promised on Chinese items, a lot of business is done off the books. Cash is the major way of payment in the market which is a go-to destination for small electronic traders in Delhi-NCR.