Consumer helpline data indicates traders are charging GST over MRP

As the goods and services tax (GST) Council gets down to further simplifying of the rules, data on consumer complaints and grievances regarding the tax will provide some insight on how the general public has responded to the new system and the problems they encounter.According to records maintained by the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) in the initial few months after the tax change in July 2017, around 11 per cent of complaints came from consumers who say they were being charged GST by traders, but weren’t provided correct bills or the GSTN number. This was the case in the initial couple of months.From the traders’ side, the highest number of complaints or queries on the helpline (around 13 per cent) was on registration, cancellation, correction, and return filling under the GST.About 58 per cent of calls on the helpline were general enquiries about the GST and how it should be dealt with.Other grievances related to traders charging higher than the GST slabs or more than the maximum retail price in the name of GST, continuing to charge value-added tax, and delay in delivery of products, services refund or replacement.

These complaints came over July and August.Though the NCH is not mandated to look specifically into GST-related enquiries and complaints, it has maintained a record of these. The NCH is a project of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and was recently shifted from the University of Delhi to the Indian Institute of Public Administration.The helpline adopts a three-tier approach while dealing with problems related to defective products, deficiency in services, and unfair trade practices. Officials said all queries and complaints regarding the GST were duly sent on to the agencies concerned.The ministry says it has begun a multimedia campaign to make consumers aware of the tax and on products on which it is not applicable.


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