E Retailing

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As per estimates made by ASSOCHAM, the US$ 300 bn Indian retail sector, which has been notching YoY growth of almost 35% to 40%, is expected to surpass US$ 365 bn in CY08. Growth prospects are likely to face hurdles owing to factors such as restrictions on FDI (foreign direct investment), the lack of a uniform tax structure across states and increasing pressure on infrastructure in key consumer markets (logistics issue).

The retail sector is growing at a hasty pace, fuelled by a strong economy, favourable demographics, rising disposable income level and rapidly changing lifestyles and consumer aspirations of an ever-burgeoning middle class.

Retailers are taking benefit of this growth and accordingly are aiming to expand. The year 2008 may witness lot of activities such as joint ventures, expansion and capital raising to fund expansion plans. Further, the players will try to strengthen their back-end activity to ensure smooth functioning and to support the growth of the business.

Industry wish list

FICCI

The sector should be granted industry status.

Uniform tax structure should be implemented. Gradual shift from the various state taxes to uniform tax would result in ease in sourcing goods efficiently and in turn aid the growth of the retail sector. The introduction of VAT in all states would result into the scrapping of differential sales tax prevailing in different states on the same product.

Allow retailers to adjust the service tax on all inputs (rents and telephone) against the sales tax they collect from customers. The retailers' who pay the state VAT do not have any output service tax against which they can set off service tax paid by them.

Eliminate multiple licenses and clearances. Retailers need to obtain licenses and permits such as basic trading licenses, product specific licenses, pollution clearances etc for every retail outlet (even its' a chain store). This only delays the opening of stores and increases cost.

FDI limit should be further liberalised, which will ensure development of robust cold chain system, bets retailing practices and wide range of goods and services at competitive prices. It will also bring along with it increased focus on farmer education and training resulting into better crop/ yield management practices. 100% FDI in multi brand retailing must be allowed in certain areas such as electronics, automobiles, sports goods etc.

Budget over the years

Budget 2007-08

The Finance Minister has been silent on proposals for the retail industry.

However, he reduced central sales tax from 4% to 3%.

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