A pre-budget panel debate organised by The Economic Times in Kolkata was attended by such retail heads as Rakesh Biyani, JMD Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd, Vijay Jain, CEO Orra, Harkirat Singh, MD Woodland, Rudra Kishore Sen, director, operations and business development (East), McDonald’s India (North & East), Debashish Mukherjee, partner, AT Kearney and Harshavardhan Neotia, chairman, Ambuja Realty. Moderated by Dr Prashant Mishra, professor marketing and admissions chairperson at IIM, Calcutta, the debate brought to light the concerns of organised retail to grow at its own projected pace. The retailers expressed the need for the Union government to accord it an industry status and to implement the goods and service tax (GST), simplify taxes and invest on infrastructure development. Rakesh Biyani questioned the imposition of 10% excise duty on branded apparel which, along with an increase in input cost, increases the end prices by over 20%. Manufacturer-retailer Harkirat Singh spoke of the squeezed margins due to multiple taxes like VAT, excise, service tax on rentals. The other issues hurting the retailer such as high rentals in metros were also discussed. The collective demand was for seeking of an industry status to the business of organised retail. The solution agreed upon was to move to smaller towns, which have high aspiration levels. RudraKishoreSen of McDonald’s touched upon the supply chain issues in smaller towns.