Guwahati, April 29: After the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime came into being, there was an impression that some sort of tax stabilization would come into effect and there would be uniformity in the maximum retail prices (MRP) of various commodities. However, the reality seems to be different in Assam and the rest of the Northeast.
For instance, an Amul Tazaa milk packet ( 1 litre) costs higher in Assam and in the rest of the Northeast as compared to its price in the rest of the country.
For the Norhteast, the packet’s MRP is Rs 64 while it is Rs 62 for the rest of India. This price discrimination is despite the implementation of GST across the country. Why is this discrimination?
The fact of the matter is that the distance by road from Delhi to Guwahati is 1,906 km while that from the national capital to Puducherry is 2,337 km. But the Amul Tazaa packet is selling at a price lower – by Rs 2 – in Puducherry as compared to Guwahati and the rest of the Northeast even as the transportation cost seems to be lower to Assam.
Thousands of litres of Amul Tazaa are sold in Guwahati and in the rest of the Northeast every day, which reflects on the additional money generated due to such sale at a higher price in this region in spite of the uniformity as attempted to by the GST regime.
As for packaged drinking water bottles, the price remains the same despite reduction in the GST slab. When the GST came into effect, the tax imposed was 27 per cent. Even at that time, the price of a half-litre bottle was Rs 10. A few months back, GST on the item was reduced to 18 per cent. However, the price of the bottle remains the same despite reduction in GST.
A high-level official from the office of the Commissioner of Taxes, Guwahati told this reporter that such price discrimination cannot happen. “We’ll surely look into the matter immediately in both the cases of Amul Tazaa and packaged drinking water bottles. These companies must give tax benefit to customers,” he said.
In order that consumers get the benefit of the GST regime, the National Anti-profiteering Authority was established by the Centre in 2016 to monitor the whole situation. According to the authority, if there is tax reduction, benefits must go to consumers, and MRP of various items in question must reflect tax reduction.