Indian traders dealing with Pakistan are hopeful that the July 1 GST rollout would boost their business, reported the Indian Express. This is for trade in the form of imports from Pakistan, through the Integrated Check Post at Attari, 3 km from the Wagah border. After the Goods & Services Tax is in place, traders believe that cement imported from Pakistan would be cheaper for Indian consumers. Pradeep Sehgal, a local trader said that they have been paying Rs 70 at most for one bag of cement but under GST, tax would drop to Rs 50. This would decrease the cement’s cost in the retail market, he said. Another trader, Rohit Sareen said that Indian companies will also benefit from GST as they will pay lesser tax than before. He, however, said that tax on Indian and Pakistani cement would be the same at around 28 per cent with some scope for margin in the former. Materials like Gypsum and imported chemicals from Pakistan would also be cheaper.
Another trader, Rajdeep Uppal, told the Indian Express that GST would make it harder for traders to evade tax. Earlier local traders would ‘mould’ the prices by not paying taxes whereas importers had to pay most of the taxes at the entry point. Under GST, importers would now pay all the taxes inside ICP premises. They would no longer have to pay any other tax in any part of India, reducing a huge chunk of paper work.
Another product that is imported from Pakistan and Afghanistan in huge quantities through Wagah is dry fruits, which may see a rise in prices, according to the Indian Express. Anil Mehra, the President of Dry Fruit Association told the paper that government has increased the tax on the luxury item from 5 per cent to a whopping 12 per cent. Denouncing the hike, he said that dry fruits are used in Ayurvedic medicines and such an increase would affect the common people.
In the days following the launch of GST, trade has come to a standstill. A trader, Manav Taneja said that implementation of GST has been weak as officials do not have clarity. He said that traders were confused as there were three Eid holidays in Pakistan, leading to a halt in business. Small traders have reservations against GST and the lack of infrastructure has made them skeptical, he said.