“It is not just non-refund of GST amount but the paper work and documentation that is putting the tea traders under pressure. We are in a spot. At this juncture, the situation looks grave,” a leading tea exporter told BusinessLine, voicing concern over the mounting claims week after week.
The GST refunds, due to the members of the South India Tea Exporters Association (SITEA) is estimated at over ₹50 crore, as on date.
“The refunds have been pending since July last. We paid 5 per cent GST on the value of the teas purchased at auctions and filed refund claims online. We have not received any sum so far by way of refund. Officials of the State GST and the Central Board of Excise and Customs — at various levels — are demanding multiple sets of hard copies of tax invoices, shipping bills, bill of loading, etc for verification, defeating the very purpose of online filing of GST returns,” said Rony Elias Tharakan, Vice-Chairman, SITEA.
He further said that the exporters had availed loan from banks and their working capital situation is squeezed at present as the refund amounts have been locked for many months.
“If this situation continues, a good number of exporters will be forced to slow down export operations or exit from business. This will have an adverse affect on the tea auction sales. Volumes on offer may not be taken up fully for want of funds and the competition on the auction floor will go for a toss. The resultant impact would be on the price. When the price drops, it will affect the small growers in Tamil Nadu, who depend on the auction system for their livelihood. It is a vicious cycle,” Tharakan said, appealing for early settlement of refund claims.