The trade community made some interesting remarks at the Trade Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting organised by the Commercial Taxes (CT) department here on Friday. There were some serious suggestions and grievances, while a few were laced with humour.
Gopal Sarma, a marble trader from the city, said that the tax officials conducted raids as and when the government coffers were empty or to meet their targets. “There is much ado about the need for transparency in doing business and paying taxes. The traders and businessmen would like to know whether the same transparency is seen in the government and CT department. The department officials know very little about businesses. They simply slap fines saying the product is undervalued. All they want is to meet targets or fill the coffers. Are we rasgullas to eat?” he asked even as the participants burst into peals of laughter.
The associations of different trades, auditors and tax consultants made a few suggestions and pointed out lapses in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law. Some traders, especially those dealing in furniture, said that officials would not consider the price fixed by the trader. They would say that the product was undervalued and impose fines. Even if the trader was ready to furnish all details such as input cost, the officials would hardly pay any attention to the requests, they said.
Another trader pointed out that they were unable to generate a waybill if the goods were transported on a rickshaw. The GST software would ask for a vehicle number. The officials would slap fines or confiscate the products saying there was no waybill for the goods transported on rickshaws.
Responding to their grievances, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy said that the government would protect the interests of the business people as long as they were honest in paying the taxes. He also promised that the government would address all the issues and grievances raised by the trade.
Mr. Rajendranath Reddy recalled that his family used to do some business during his college days. Their tax consultant suggested that paying taxes regularly could lead them into the scrutiny bracket of the officials. “I was impressed with the suggestion and conveyed it to my father, who then said, ‘Do you want the poor to pay the taxes but not the rich?’ It changed my perception. The businessmen should understand that the government runs solely on taxes paid by them,” he said.