Calls on GST flood consumer helpline

New Delhi: Notwithstanding the Government’s mega awareness campaign on Goods and Services Tax, the National Consumer Helpline, run by Ministry of Consumer Affairs, got almost 4500 calls in first month of the new tax regime.

A review of the National Consumer Helpline, chaired by minister Ram Vilas Paswan, on Thursday revealed that between July 31 to August 31, 4,426 calls were received on GST alone. Out of these 2,546 were general queries about how the new tax will impact prices and how it will be implemented.

Both consumers and the traders were equally perplexed. As per the statistics, 593 calls were from traders enquiring about registration and filing return for GST. Nearly 350 calls were from consumers complaining about traders who were selling more than the MRP in the name of GST.

The confusion on GST prevailed even though multiple government agencies went all out to raise awareness on the issue. The government came up with a full-page advertisement in leading dailies. Central Board of Excise and Customs had issued a set of 50 FAQs on various provisions of GST in the form of full-page advertisements in newspapers. To top it, actor Amitabh Bachchan starred in GST advertorials.

The latest statistics of the National Consumer Helpline also throw up an interesting trend. The highest number of complaints pertain to online purchases. From January to August 31 this year, 41,210 complaints have been lodged. “Our success rate in addressing these complaints is equally high, especially since we have 52 e-commerce firms on board. The complaints are directly forwarded to them by us and a nodal officer keeps a tab on their redressal,” a senior Consumer Affairs official explained. The helpline claims that 77 % of these complaints were suitably settled.

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