Union Budget 2018: Retailers seek industry status, GST simplification to attract more investments

By: | Updated: January 20, 2018 12:36 AM

Budget 2018: With the Union Budget 2018 around the corner, retailers have asked the government to simplify GST system and grant industry status to the sector for easier access to finance and attract more investments. The retail industry is also seeking ease in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime for multi-brand retail trade (MBRT).

union budget 2018, FDI, multi brand retail trade, gst simplification, gst refund, Budget 2018: With the union budget around the corner, retailers have asked the government to simplify GST system and grant industry status to the sector for easier access to finance and attract more investments. (Reuters)

Budget 2018: With the Union Budget 2018 around the corner, retailers have asked the government to simplify GST system and grant industry status to the sector for easier access to finance and attract more investments. The retail industry is also seeking ease in the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime for multi-brand retail trade (MBRT) beside asking for incentives to be provided from the government to set up cold-chain storage facilities and setting up of warehouses as a pre-budget wish list. Before the Budget 2018 announcement, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) said invoices issued to BTC (bank transfer compliant) consumers must be simplified and the need for manual signature and multiple copies to get GST refund must be removed. “RAI has highlighted several practical problems and operational challenges faced by retailers with regards to GST and have included a few recommendations based on the same,” RAI CEO Kumar Rajagopalan said. Seeking simplification of process for GST refund, he said, “GST invoices issued to BTC consumers should be further simplified by eliminating the mention of HSN (harmonised system of nomenclature) codes on them, removing the need for manual signature and multiple copies.”

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On the demand for industry status for retail sector, Rajagopalan said, “Such a step would provide the sector with support in accessing the financial system and hence allow for more investment in the sector and also allow the critical sector to be eligible for all support and incentives as applicable to other industries.” Expressing similar views, Franchise India Chairman Gaurav Marya said: “For small retailers, banks could provide finance to help them upgrade themselves and be more competitive and contemporary in their approach to reaching out to the customer.”

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He, however, said there is a need for protection of small retailers and the government should not only focus on making them better but also focus on how to boost their productivity and make their business profitable and sustainable in the long term. EY India Partner and India region Tax Leader, Consumer Products and Retail sector Aashish Kasad said: “The wishlist include FDI regime to be liberalised for MBRT and incentives to be provided for setting up warehousing and cold chain storage facilities”.

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Rajagopalan also highlighted the need to eliminate intermediaries and provisions of the APMC Act has to be relooked at to facilitate easy procurement of produce by retailers who can then pass on the benefits to consumers. Other demands include incentives on digital payments by making them cheaper than card payments or by incentivising acceptance and access to renewable power sources of energy. “The government needs to take action to help Indian retailers that are performing well in Indian market to access new markets both within and outside India and help grow global retail brands coming from India,” Marya said.

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