There are just 20 days left for the implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST) across the country, but the trading community in Delhi is still grappling with a host of transition problems, primary among them the lack of computer literacy and a clear understanding of the new tax system. Accustomed to manual billing and accounting systems, they are apprehensive about going fully digital.
“The trader will be deemed a criminal if he makes mistakes in entering details of transactions in the GST Network system,” said an anxious Arun Singhania, president of Delhi Hindustani Mercantile Association which represents the 4,000-odd textile traders of Chandni Chowk. Since Independence, non-branded clothing has never been taxed and the sudden shift to a transparent, digitised system has not left them too confident of a smooth transition.
Among other stumbling blocks are the need to computerise the ledger-based accounting system, use the services of accountants and the requirement to file returns three times a month instead of once in three months under the VAT regime. Many traders, like Sanjeev Sharma, a 60-year-old running one of the oldest general stores in Sarojini Nagar Market, also felt that the base limit of Rs 20 lakh in annual turnover for mandatory registration with GSTN, isn’t big enough to warrant the expenses necessary to migrate to the new system.