Demonetisation & GST no dampener for Patna traders

PATNA: Much against general perception, demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime appeared to have no bearing on the voting behaviour of the trade and business sections in the Patna Sahib parliamentary constituency.

PM Narendra Modi had announced demonetisation of the then high-value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 on November 8, 2016, causing immediate cash scarcity in the country that disrupted the economy and also led to removal of people from jobs, or voluntary cessation of work in various kinds of trade activities, including in the informal sector that accounted for around 54% of the economy.

On the other hand, introduction of GST regime and rearrangement of various kinds of taxes in five tax slabs a year later on July 1, 2017 had also led to additional burden on the trade, business and industry circles, resulting in further confusion, including in the job market that caused unemployment.

However, over the last two to three years, the business and trade circles have seemingly overcome the initial disturbances caused in the economy. “There had been hiccups, like the cash crunch caused by the demonetisation. Similarly, problems related to GST had been taken up by the GST Council. The hiccups have largely eased out,” Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) secretary general Amit Mukherjee said.

“It must be counted as pluses on the side of the central government. The trading and business classes have been the traditional supporters of the BJP,” he added.

Indeed, the gold and silver jewellery market in Patna and other parts of the state had been acutely concerned about the new tax regime. Patliputra Sarrafa Sangh (PSS) president Vinod Kumar said the jewellers in state had also joined the countrywide 42-day stir to make the Centre take notice of their demands.

The jewellers wanted 3% GST on the gold and silver jewellery and freedom from e-way bill for transporting jewellery from one place to another, as people in the sector had been traditionally transporting their items from one place to another either through courier services or by hand for security reasons. “The GST Council finally addressed our two concerns,” Kumar said.

He said the traders engaged in the gold and jewellery sector would vote for BJP’s Patna Sahib candidate Ravi Shankar Prasad. Recalling an incident, Kumar said Ravi Shankar had given patient hearing to the concerns of the jewellers at Patna. “He (Ravi Shankar) told us that he would convey our concerns to the PM,” Kumar said.

Source- Times of India.

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