Tradersâ€™ Association Alleges Harassment by GST Officials
The All Kerala Gold and Silver Merchantsâ€™ Association said here on Monday that its members would stage a protest in front of the State secretariat on Wednesday against what the merchants alleged was â€śpersecutionâ€ť by officials of the Goods and Services Tax Department, resulting in the disruption of normal commercial activities. Leader of Opposition V. D. Satheesan would inaugurate the protest gathering, said S. Abdul Nasar, treasurer of the association.
He said constant â€śharassmentâ€ť by GST officials was forcing the gold merchants to openly protest. Officials from the GST department had been found camping in front of gold outlets across the State, he alleged. He said customers were being checked for their purchases while work at gold workshops was disrupted constantly. Gold being moved from workshops to hallmarking units was being seized by the officials, he alleged.
However, GST department sources denied the allegations of persecution. While small units and processors were not under scrutiny, only those consignments without proper documentation were being subjected to inspections and penalty. There was no question of disrupting business, they said.
Mr. Nasar alleged that in recent incidents, in Thrissur, Alappuzha, and Karunagappally, gold merchants and gold workers were intercepted by GST officials. The merchants said units selling gold ornaments up to â‚ą40 lakh a year were exempt from the purview of the GST. However, even such units were being harassed, he alleged. â€śThere is no justification in demanding GST registration from establishments in the category,â€ť he said. According to gold merchants, the total taxes paid by the gold business in the State was â‚ą853 crore during the financial year 2020-21. GST department sources said the income for the State from taxes amounted to â‚ą475 crore under the GST arrangement.
The merchants are of the opinion that efforts should be made by the GST department to convince the merchants to go in for GST registration. Around 7,000 gold merchants in the State have GST registration out of a total of 15,000 jewellers across the State. There were five lakh workers involved in gold processing, designing, and sales directly and eight lakh families depended on the sector for their livelihood.