Driving the other day by the Sales Tax offices, the Man from Madras Musings was impressed by a black granite signboard that now declared the new name of the building to be GST Bhavan. The Tamil translation of the word ‘goods’ in GST, this being Goods and Services Tax, intrigued MMM, for it was sarakku, which, while being the correct equivalent, also colloquially stands for the spirit that cheers. And then MMM realised that this was not so inappropriate after all, for the terms and conditions concerning GST are so confusing that it would be no surprise if those impacted by this tax take to the bottle in increasing numbers.
From what MMM can see, Chennai is now divided into three classes – those that talk about GST but probably don’t pay any, those that pay GST, and those who could not care less. The political class comes in the first lot, the vast middle class in the second. The third is truly democratic, for it involves the uber rich and the stony broke. Neither class is in anyway bothered by GST.
But what interested MMM the most was the way the tailoring class of Chennai objected to this tax. And by these MMM does not mean those small hole-in-the-corner garret tailors who spend the whole day poring over a sewing machine.
He is speaking of those up-market boutiques that managed to get by all these days by collecting money in cash for services rendered by way of bespoke suits and designer dresses. Billing was almost never done, it transpires, the money collected making it directly to the bank with receipts being issued on slips of paper. These cash-and-carry enterprises have finally woken up to the horrors of being taxed. They could do with a few stiff helpings of the sarakku described above.