Imposition of GST on packaged grocery & milk products affects middle class

With the imposition of 5% GST on packaged groceries, milk and milk products, prices of packaged and branded grocery items like atta (wheat flour), dal (pulses), besan (gram flour), maida (refined wheat flour) and poha have gone up considerably, except that of edible oil, which witnessed a waning in prices of Rs. 20 to Rs. 30 per kg.

Before GST was imposed on July 18 on grocery items, branded edible oil, rice, and tea were already under the purview of GST, so it has not impacted their prices. With festivals coming around, prices of grocery and milk products may see a further hike due to an increase in demand, but as of now, the impact of an increase in demand on prices is not seen.

People, particularly the middle classes, have started buying packaged goods because of their concern for hygiene and quality. The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) was also promoting the sale and use of packaged and branded goods so that people get quality products to eat; but then, the government all of a sudden came up with the idea of imposing 5% GST on commodities like poha and atta, which has no justification but an attempt to give an upper hand to retail store chains because when a person goes there, he doesn’t haggle for prices, which he does in small stores.

The imposition of GST on grocery and milk products has not only affected household budgets but also snacks like samosas, kachoris, and bread pakoras. In the pre-Covid days, if someone sold a samosa for Rs. 10 per piece, people would raise their eyebrows, but now it’s being sold for Rs. 15 per piece. Prices of sweets, snacks in hotels, and food have gone up too.