Keralites were in for a shock when their cult favourite Malabar porotta was subjected to a18% GST against the 5% that was applied to packaged chapathi and roti. The ruling said that unlike roti that could be consumed directly from the packet, porotta needs to be heated before consuming. The ruling is by the Karnataka bench of the Authority for Advance Rulings (AAR). It came as a reply to the applicant ID Fresh Foods, a private food manufacturing unit that approached the AAR to clarify whether their whole wheat porotta and Malabar porotta came under the category of products that attract 5% GST.
The porotta lovers who were irked by this decision soon turned to social media to express their anger and disappointment. Hashtags like #handsoffporotta began trending on Twitter. The official account of the Kerala Tourism too joined the debate by posting the picture of the flaky porotta under #handsoffporotta. Many criticize Karnataka AAR's decision as food fascism.
The bench that included Dr Ravi Prasad and Mashud ur Rahman Farooqui said that packaged chapathi and roti come under the category of 'ready to eat while porotta are 'ready to cook' that needed to be heated before consuming.
Meanwhile, CEO of the ID Fresh Foods PC Mustafa says that the same ingredients and cooking methods of roti are used to prepare porotta as well; hence he wants the porotta, too, to be included under the same tariff.
While the regular roti attracts 5% GST, the frozen porotta carries a GST of 18%. This ruling has rejected the appeal that porotta should be included in the same category as roti. The preparation of porotta is quite different from other food items. In some varieties, cooked ingredients like potatoes are also added. So, according to the panel, porotta would not come under Chapter heading 1905 which attracts GST at the rate of 5%. The products that are completely cooked and are 'ready to eat' are included in Chapter 1905.
Before GST, porotta carried a 5% VAT. The Mumbai GST authorities had instructed that the same could be continued. However, the food manufacturing unit had approached the AAR after a few officials expressed doubts about it. The CEO of ID Fresh Foods said that he would appeal against the current ruling.