Rain, GST dampen firecracker sales in city

Incessant rain and high prices following the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) have dampened the sale of firecrackers this year in Bengaluru.

Although, no trader has revealed how much of their business is affected due to rain and GST, most of the traders are unanimous in their opinion that they have not seen good footfalls this year.

 Other than shops in Chickpet, Bengalureans buy crackers from the temporary cracker shops which come up in open grounds ahead of Diwali and pushcarts.

“This year I have witnessed a dramatic reduction in the cracker sales. I think continuous rains have discouraged people from purchasing,” Samira Rao, an entrepreneur based out of R T Nagar said.

When contacted, BBMP authorities said this year they got very few queries for licence to open makeshift shops to sell crackers. “Normally we get more queries to set up shops in the city. This time the weather really played a spoil sport,” said a BBMP official.

According to the City Police Commissioner, a total of around 70 locations are identified this time for selling crackers and as many as 400 licences are issued. In Malleshwaram, Indiranagar, Jayanagar, J P Nagar and Banashankari areas have witnessed fewer selling points of crackers this time.

Anu K, a house wife from Indiaranagar said she was surprised to find more than 70% discount on firecrackers this year. “I normally spend less money on firecrackers. This time I purchased firecrackers with discount but the prices are high,” she said.

Firecrackers prices have gone up because of the imposition of GST. “Before the imposition of GST, the firecrackers traders had to pay a tax of 14% only. But this has gone up to 28% on MRP after the roll out of GST,” said Sri Shivananda Stores owner Suprit, located in Chikpet.

The firecracker industry is already in trouble following a ban on the sale by the Supreme Court in Delhi. The north Indian community settled in Bengaluru are celebrating Diwali in the city than going to their home towns.

“The ban in Delhi is expected to cause a loss of Rs 1,000 crore. But we expect north Indians to spend more money in Bengaluru and it will help sales in the city,” a trader said.

Nilesh Joshi, a resident of K R Puram and originally from Mumbai, said he used to go to Hosur to purchase crackers. “After the Electronic City flyover we can see the sellers up to Hosur. We will get crackers which are cheaper in price. But this time I am reluctant to go because of the rains,” said Joshi.

Tamil Nadu’s fireworks manufacturing hub Sivakasi accounts for 85% of all crackers sold in the country with an annual estimated turnover of about Rs 7,000 crore.

Director General of Foreign trade, the Petroleum & Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO), the central government authority handling petroleum and explosives, has classifed fireworks under restrictive items.

“Even though Chinese crackers are not permitted to be sold in the market, it is available in the market without valid permission. Also, Chinese crackers are made out of potassium chlorate which is cheaper than the one mixed with Sulpher,” said a trader.

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