FMCG promotions to rise on GST tweak

Consumer promotions across categories are set to escalate, with a fineprint in the changes made in the law by the Goods and ServicesNSE -1.01 % Tax Council easing curbs on distributor and retailer invoicing.

Till now, companies were allowed to issue one credit or debit note (in other words receipts which could be offset against future purchases) for each invoice (or bill), which the GST Council is now amending to allow issue of credit/debit notes against multiple bills.

This will be a major relaxation for industriesNSE 1.06 % such as fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and pharmaceuticals which operate largely through credit notes for trade and consumer promotions, said an industry expert.

Consumer facing companies say the move will simplify trade-level transactions at multiple channels, since they typically run promotions either by upfront discounts or issuing credit notes to trade, to be reimbursed later.

Gautam Sharma, managing director of instant noodles maker Indo Nissin, said: “Instead of only giving distributors discounts upfront, companies will now be able to reimburse sales promotion costs to trade through credit notes post facto (that is, reimbursing for benefits already given). This opens multiple possibilities in which we can quickly and easily run consumer and trade promotions to drive growth.”

“Registered persons may issue consolidated credit or debit notes in respect of multiple invoices issued in a year,” according to an official communique on the changes to the law. The changes proposed in the GST Law are likely to be taken up by the union cabinet on Wednesday to pave the for amendment bill’s introduction in Parliament in the ongoing Monsoon session.

Lalit Malik, chief financial offer at DaburNSE 2.24 %, maker of Vatika shampoo and Real juices, said: “The new proposed changes will result in reducing complexities and simplifying transactions related to issuing credit notes.”

With the GST Council slashing taxes across close to 200 categories last year in November, companies have been pushing trade and consumer promotions, starting last year, which will now get a further push. There was also an increased quantity of promotions with companies under the watch of the anti-profiteering clause under the GST law, to pass on all benefits from lower taxes to consumers.

Tax experts say this was long-standing demand of the industry.

“Delinking credit notes with individual invoices was a long standing demand of various industries given that credit notes could not be linked to individual invoices in a number of situations. Hence, issuing them was a tedious process. While credit notes can still be issued only in certain conditions, this will still ease the burden of FMCG sector,” said Bipin Sapra, partner, EY.

“The need to issue a credit note for each invoice was not in conformity with commercial practices as credit notes would usually relate to multiple invoices issued over a period of time,” pointed MS Mani, partner at consulting and financial advisory firm Deloitte. Changes in the GST laws permitting the issue of consolidated credit notes across the financial year would specifically benefit FMCG companies who have large number of invoices by reducing the documentation and alignment of the GST law with commercial realities, Mani said.


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