West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has asked state finance minister Amit Mitra to write to the Centre for reconsidering its decision of levying GST on sweets. In a conference of business organisations held in Kala Mandir, Kolkata on Thursday, the chief minister delivered a speech over phone from her administrative Nabanna headquarter.
Mamata mentioned that she is not against implementing GST but the way it is being hurriedly imposed on businessmen, without giving them the time to prepare, should not happen. She assured that she will always fight to safeguard the interest of businessmen. Before GST, there was no tax on sweets in Bengal. Sweetmeat was not taxed under Value Added Tax (VAT).
GST has also created a confusion among sweet-makers and sellers regarding the percentage of tax. For instance, sellers would have to bear 5% GST on chhana (curd cheese) sweets like roshogolla, sandesh, gulab jamun, kancha golla or rabdi. However, chocolate-coated sweets, which were invented just a few years back and have become extremely popular, will be charged with 28% GST.
Not only sweets, 18% tax has been imposed on Bengal's famous mishit doi (sweet curd). For salted snacks like radhaballavi, kachori or namkeen, the slab is 12%. Even sweets garnished with cardamom, dry fruits or nuts will be taxed at 12%.
However, the GST Council claims that even if chocolate or nuts are mixed with sweets, the tax remains 5%. Amid confusion over the amount of tax on different types of sweets, the move has led to an increase in the price of sweets in several shops and chains across the state. In Kolkata, prices of sweets have reportedly gone up at an average rate of Rs 5 per piece.
Talking to MAIL TODAY, Amitava Dey, owner of the 170-year-old brand Felu Modak, said, "Sweets made with chhana like roshogolla, chomchom or sandesh are easily perishable. We urge the central government to remove GST from these sweets at least. It is a huge loss for our sweets industry."
He further informed that chief minister Mamata Banerjee has assured to stand by them and fight for their cause. Dey questions, "If there is no GST on North India's lassi, why is GST imposed on Bengal's mishti doi?"
On August 21, over two lakh sweet sellers across Bengal pulled down shutters protesting the centre's decision to levy GST on sweets under the banner of Paschimbanga Mistanna Byabsayee Samity. On August 25, 26 and 27, they went on a relay hunger strike protesting the move.