With no targets fixed, the monthly revenue collections from GST are not encouraging, the frequent revisions in rates has impacted the stability of the new tax system and has adversely impacted the trade and businesses, a Parliamentary panel has observed in its report. “The Committee are constrained to observe the not-so-encouraging monthly revenue collections from GST, which still have not stabilised with frequent changes in rates and issue of notifications every now and then. Further, the Committee are surprised to learn that no GST revenue targets have been fixed by the government,” the Standing Committee on Finance headed by Congress leader M Veerappa Moily said in its report tabled in Parliament today.
The Committee also observed that the frequent revisions in rates has “no doubt affected the regime stability, with adverse impact on trade and business.” States have also reported losses in revenue collection, said the Parliamentary panel, adding it will only increase the compensation budget of the central government. The GST Council should duly address the grievances of states, if any, so that their financial health do not suffer and the lingering issues relating to GST (Goods and Services Tax) should be sorted out, including the operational problems, hassles faces by businesses, particularly the smaller ones, it said.
“Representations received in this regard should be disposed in a structured manner within a given time-frame. The Committee would also like to caution that the Department of Revenue should ever remain alert and vigilant on the possibility of revenue leakages, evasion and collusion in the course of GST implementation,” it said in its report. Further, greater awareness needs to be created among the traders about the Goods and Services (GST) structure, need for its implementation and punitive action in case of non-compliance, it said.
In December, the GST collections stood at Rs 86,703 crore, higher than November figure of Rs 80,808 crore and Rs 83,000 crore in October. In September, it was over Rs 92,150 crore. The new indirect tax system GST was rolled out from July 2017 all across the country.
On the narrow base of India’s tax base, the Committee said it was alarming that total number of individual taxpayers by end of September quarter was 6.08 crore — only 4.86 per cent of the total population of 125 crore — clearly demonstrates the “regressive nature of our direct tax regime and the narrow base the Department (of Revenue) operates on.”
“Therefore, the Committee would like the Department to review and re-orient their strategies with appropriate tax policy so that we can have a broader as well as deeper tax base vis-a-vis other comparable and emerging economies,” it suggested. On the steep hike in the budget estimate under Demand no 33 of the Department of Revenue at Rs 837.28 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 1,24,096.55 crore as revised estimate, Parliament Panel said the budgetary estimates under this demand should be more accurately formulated and realistically projected. Taking cognisance of the current plight in the telecom sector, the Committee recommended that taxation issues of the debt-ridden telecom sector (which is relatively in nascent stage), with a cumulative levy imposed in the range of 25-29 per cent of revenue, require to be pragmatically addressed so that the telecom/digital network can expand fast.
It will ensure service quality to the public, it said. The Committee has also suggested deployment of USFO fund to strengthen the network/service of telcom PSUs.