As Patanjali, HUL, McDonald’s face GST ‘anti-profiteering’, here’s what businesses can do to avoid complaints

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The issue of ‘anti-profiteering’ has gained momentum over the last nine months. During this period the National Anti-Profiteering Authority (NAA) has been formally set up along with the overall machinery of investigation through the Director General of Anti-Profiteering (DGAP) and the complaints mechanism via the screening and standing committees.At the same time, the concept of ‘anti-profiteering’ and specifically the obligation on the part of the business to pass on benefits arising either from a reduction in GST rates, and, or through enhanced input credits has been widely socialized with both business and consumers. With consumers at the heart of the provisions, the NAA has not only executed a nationwide campaign raising awareness of the issue but has also simplified the complaint process to encourage consumers to report possible breaches. This has resulted in a large number of complaints being filed alleging profiteering and a majority are still to be investigated.

It is, however, businesses that have the core responsibility to compute and pass on the GST benefit in the prices set for both goods and services. This has been particularly difficult to implement in the absence of a detailed framework or prescribed methodology from the NAA. As has been previously noted, this is a clear departure from the approach adopted in other Countries and has resulted in repeated requests for guidance and a formal methodology to be issued. Whilst the NAA has engaged in dialogue with both individual business and industry groups to understand issues arising, there have been several statements from the NAA confirming that complexity of business models means it is not possible to issue standard guidance. In the absence of guidance, business may rely on the rationale and principles emerging from the NAA Orders to assess compliance with the provisions.

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