GST: Enforcement ramped up to check fleecing by traders

    Legal Metrology Department to act against dealers charging rates above MRP

    The Legal Metrology Department (LMD) has stepped up enforcement measures to prevent fleecing by traders following shortage of commodities in the market due to restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

    This follows complaints that a section of traders who stopped issuing computerised receipts, are charging rates above the MRP. “Many items have run out of stock at several shops in the city, following which people queue up in front of shops selling them. It is a matter of concern that some traders have stopped issuing computerised receipts. There is every probability that unscrupulous traders will overcharge gullible customers,” said Suresh Kumar Prabhakaran, a retired government employee.

    LMD Joint Controller R. Ram Mohan exhorted the public to inform the department if traders were found charging rates in excess of prices specified for various goods. “The price of mask, sanitisers, and bottled drinking water are regulated since they have been brought under the ambit of essential goods.

    The department can act in case packaged goods are sold sans the mandatory declarations as it is a violation of consumer rights. These rules are binding on street vendors too.

    Our teams are active on the ground, and a total of 160 inspections were conducted on Friday in Ernakulam and other districts,” he said. The phone numbers of officials are Ernakulam – 82816-98067; Idukki – ending 57; Thrissur 84, and Palakkad 92.

    A city-based supplier of masks and sanitisers said the wholesale price of a surgical mask was less than ₹2 till January, when people began purchasing them as a preventive measure against COVID-19. “Its retail rate was between ₹4 and ₹5 till January. The rate escalated to over ₹30 a piece until the government intervened and brought in price regulations,” he added.

    On traders not issuing computerised receipts, an income tax official said the GST Department must clamp down on the practice. “Many registered brands sell goods under different names, but in a look-alike packing, to avoid GST. On their part, the traders are citing curbs by the police on transportation of goods as a reason for shortage of commodities,” he added.

    The shortage of essential commodities has been worsened by street vendors, who used to sell vegetables and fruits, shutting down shops at most places. “The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in over 5,000 vendors in Ernakulam halting business,” said K.A. Usman, district secretary of Street Vendors Association and State convenor of the coordination committee of vendors.

    Source- The Hindu.

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