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The benefits of GST

The economic affairs ministry has warned traders to not consider GST benefits as profit and asking them to pass down the benefits to consumers.
The warning comes at the right time when Bhutanese have started feeling the impact of the GST regime in India. Bhutan imports almost everything from India and there will be direct impact on Bhutan from the tax reform carried out in India. Although our export and those in the export businesses are hampered by GST, we are largely an importing country and Bhutanese should benefit from the tax reforms in India.
The benefit, like the officiating secretary of the economic affairs ministry said, should trickle down to the consumers. The benefit is not at the cost of traders. What traders or importers should do is follow the directives of the department or the ministry by purchasing goods from either principal companies or GST entities in India.
By purchasing from these entities, traders will not be affected by people who are trying to avoid the GST in India. Imported goods will become more expensive as they would try to pass on the GST to traders.
The ministry had done its part by notifying traders and consumers. However, it is easier said that done. Protecting consumer is a big challenge in Bhutan. As there is not much choice, consumers are always on the receiving end whether it is house rent, cost of goods or essentials.
When civil servants receive a raise in their salary or allowance, we see house rent shoot up. The benefits are enjoyed by a few. In this case, tenants are not protected even with a Tenancy Act. When there is a roadblock or when the first farm produce hits the market, there is no control over prices of essentials.
We had a maximum retail price rule. But nobody follows it, in fact it is difficult to implement. Shops sell expired goods, cheating those who cannot read or write, unless they come to the notice of BAFRA. The consumer protection unit should be more active with the GST in place now.
There should be awareness campaigns and those businesses that are trying to make hay when the sun shines should be penalized even at the cost of their business licenses.
There is not much we can do when it comes to the GST, but while we have the opportunity for being on the benefiting side, we should let all reap the benefits.

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