The anti-profiteering framework may stay for two extra years and bring in changes to the country’s GST. The National Anti-profiteering Authority (NAA) was initially meant to stay for just two years.
Once the new government is in place at the Centre, NAA will take a decision whether to extend the tenure or not.
An official in NAA said that there are several cases that need to be resolved and complaints need to be addressed.
Key sectors such as petroleum fall outside GST and changes in the rate structure are expected, making NAA’s role critical. Currently, GST has four slabs – 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%. The NAA is planning to merge 12% and 18% to reduce complications.
The board has issued orders against numerous companies with profiteering complaints, which include Domino’s for profiteering estimated at Rs 41.42 crore, Hindustan Unilever at Rs 535 crore, McDonald’s at Rs 7.49 crore, and Abbott Healthcare at Rs 96 lakh.
An official said in an interview, “The authority needs to have clear guidelines on determining profiteering. It seems likely that the authority will get an extension, not only because of a significant number of pending cases but also in view of possible rate rationalisation and expansion of the GST net in the next year or so.”
The system was put in place to protect consumers against any sudden increase in prices after GST was introduced in July 2017 and to make sure that the companies passed on their savings from taxes to buyers.
India adopted a 3-tier strategy
Several countries faced inflation soon after adopting GST. Hence, India looked at the framework that Australia and Malaysia had put in place.
India adopted a 3-tier structure for the investigation of the complaints of consumers against anti-profiteering.
The first level consists of a state-level screening committee and the second level comprises a standing committee at the national level to examine grievances. These committees address complaints to the director general of safeguards, authorised to conduct a full investigation by getting information from the concerned companies.
The last level is the National Anti-profiteering Authority that investigates the report and hears the complainant before announcing the final decision.