Thiruvananthapuram: Ten days have passed since the slashing of taxes on over 200 items under the goods and services tax (GST) regime, but traders in Kerala are refusing to cut prices and pass on the benefit of lower taxes to consumers.
Even the government-run Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) outlets have not lowered prices in accordance with the new tax rates, their bills showed.
Despite complaints pouring in about traders charging GST unfairly, the state Goods and Services Tax department has not yet started inspections at merchants’ establishments as promised earlier to prevent malpractices/irregularities under the cover of the new tax regime.
The GST Council has assessed that the revenue loss to central and state governments as a result of the latest rejigging of tax rates would come around Rs 20,000 crore per annum. However, it is the producers, distributors, and traders who are making the most of the rollback.
Visits to a number of supermarkets in major cities in the state after the council decided to lower the rates on over 200 products revealed that most of them have not brought down the prices yet.
Tax rates of idli and dosa batter have been slashed from 12 per cent to 5 per cent with effect from November 15. However, a prominent supermarket in Pulimoodu in Thiruvananthapuram continue to levy 12 per cent of tax on these items. Chocolates and primary cell and primary batteries too have witnessed rate reduction, down from 28 per cent to 18 percent, but their prices too are kept unchanged.
At a margin-free outlet in Vazhuthacaud, chutney powder is continued to be taxed at 12 per cent, despite the rate being reduced to 5 per cent. Shampoos and detergents too, that have been put into the lower tax category of 18 per cent, remain in the 28 per cent tax bracket.
If the Supplyco outlet in Thiruvananthapuram levied 5 per cent of tax on chutney powder, the same item is taxed at 18 per cent at the Supplyco supermarket in Kochi’s Panampilly Nagar. Here too, shampoos, chocolate and batteries remain in the 28 per cent bracket despite being brought under the 18 per cent slab.
At a margin-free market in Kuriachira, two different brands of chocolates attracted 28 per cent GST. In a nearby supermarket, chutney powder is taxed at 12 per cent, whereas a shop on the Ikkanda Warrier road continues to charge 28 per cent GST on shampoos.
The tax on dosa batter in a supermarket in Nadakkavu continues to be 12 per cent. The rates of chutney powder (12 per cent), and batteries and soaps (28 per cent) too remain unchanged. A supermarket in Jawahar Nagar charged 28 per cent tax on chocolates and shampoos but the bill showed zero tax! The Supplyco outlet in Nadakkavu charged 28 per cent on bathing soaps. It was difficult to make out the GST levied on different items from the bill issued by a supermarket in East Nadakkavu even as many of the items were illegally taxed at 28 per cent.