With the enforcement of the GST regime, the Bengali sweet and dessert industry is in disarray. The prices of popular sweets like Rosogulla, Sandesh, Misti Doi and Pantua are on the rise, making it difficult for the lovers of such sweets and desserts. The Goods and Services Tax came into effect from 1st of July which sets taxes at 5% on such products making it dearer for the consumers. But the real problem does not end here.
In fact, the proprietors of sweet shops are as much in a state of confusion as the customers, given the complexity of the different ingredients present in these sweet variants, and how the GST interacts with these condiments. The fact that some shops have over 200 variants of sweets and all of these falls into one of the four different tax slabs doesn’t ease the confusion either.
Sudip Mallick, the owner of Balaram Mallick and Radharam Malick, one of the most prominent sweet chains in Kolkata, addresses these very problems, “Currently we are calculating 5% GST on all sorts of sweets, except the chocolate-flavoured ones, where the rate is fixed at 28%. We will continue to do so unless there is further notification from the government differentiating between ordinary sweets, packaged suits and dry fruit- flavoured sweets” he voices.
A culmination of these factors has led to Bengali sweet shops becoming mayhem-infused centers, where customers and proprietors have prolonged arguments about what the correct pricing (inclusive of GST) of a certain savoury would be; each one taking a minimum 10 minutes to calculate how much money they would have to shell out for their purchase.
These problems arise even when a proprietor has enough of an investment to afford machines and accompanying software that can calculate the tax. This nightmare magnifies tenfold in the cases of those small-scale businesses which can’t afford a computer to begin with. Although in most of these cases official communication hasn’t reached them.
Regional bias could also be a factor in the rate-fixing process, seeing how Lassi and Mishti Doi, which contain the same essential ingredients, are in different tax slabs; Lassi being exempted completely from any tax. Hopefully, these problems will iron themselves out over time as standard rates start applying to products.
By: Tarun Rao