The customary Christmas cakes toast of every household on the occasion of Xmas have eluded many in West Bengal especially in the rural and smaller towns this time as coins remain an impending problem for small businesses. Shop owners in Kolkata and districts like Nadia and Murshidabad expressed their sorrow for holding their stock of cakes due to the coins problem. They complained that either they are holding 50-60 per cent of stock of products priced below Rs 10 including cakes or refusing to sell customers offering to pay by coins of Re 1 coins. “The demand for small tiffin sized cakes priced at sub-Rs 10 is not robust this year in rural and small towns as it could have been just due to the problem of coins.
The problem is more evident in small cakes priced between Rs 5-7 produced and locally by neighbourhood bakeries,” Secretary of the joint action committee of bakeries in West Bengal, Idris Ali told PTI today. Demand soars multiple times during Christmas but local shops are refusing to stock these tiffin cakes from bakers due to huge surplus coins as they too are facing huge hurdles in either reusing or depositing it in the banks, he said. For small bakeries, almost 50 per cent of their sales realisation happens through coins, local bakers said.
The majority of the problem surrounds around Re 1 coin. A small kirana store said they are not accepting Re 1 coins as the same is out of circulation in their region. All India Bread manufacturers Association president Ramesh Mago said the problem of coins remains more or less across India. “One of our member in Uttar Pradesh had to approach High court to get coins deposited in banks,” he said. Bakeries in West Bengal had alleged that banks in the state were refusing to accept coins, crippling the employment-intensive sector’s financials.
For small bakeries, almost 50 per cent of their sales realisation happens through coins, Idris Ali said. With the small and medium enterprises already burdened with GST, which has pushed several bakery products to the 18 per cent tax bracket from five per cent, the coin issue is like a double whammy for the sector, Ali said. According to sources in the banking industry, lenders in the state do not have enough chests to manage such large quantity of coins. However, speaking to a member of Chennai Bakery Owners Association said they are not facing any major problem with coins.