The world’s largest fiscal reform, Goods and Services Tax (GST), should not be implemented with “jugaad” and the rollout date for the new indirect tax regime should be postponed by a month, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra said today. He said West Bengal has been the “pioneer” in seeking GST implementation, but the regime should be such that common man and small traders benefit alike. “I have also added a caveat (in the Council meeting) that July 1 looks extremely difficult. But you cannot do Jugaad for world’s largest fiscal reform called GST,” Mitra told reporters after the 16th meeting of the GST Council here. He said that a small business has to fill up a spreadsheet which then has to go through a software process to get uplinked. Reports suggest that the formats of these would be made available only by the end of this month. “…And you are going to start GST from July 1. So my submission was, let us not do jugaad for something which is world’s largest fiscal reform,” he said, adding that its rollout should be “postponed by one month or so”.
Asked if West Bengal is ready for a July 1 rollout, Mitra said there is still one more meeting of the GST Council on June 18 during which the preparedness will be assessed. “Whenever we are prepared fully to our satisfaction, everybody feels comfortable, we can go ahead,” he said. In the meeting today, the GST Council decided that traders, manufacturers and restaurant owners with a turnover of up to Rs 75 lakh can opt for a composition scheme and pay taxes at the rate of 1, 2, and 5 per cent respectively. Earlier, the Council had decided on a turnover limit of Rs 50 lakh. Besides, movie tickets costing up to Rs 100 will now attract 18 per cent tax, as against 28 per cent proposed earlier, while those above Rs 100 will continue to attract 28 per cent GST.
Mitra termed increasing the turnover limit for availing composition scheme and reduction in tax rates for cinema tickets as “people-centric measures”. “West Bengal thinks that by stimulating SMEs, your GDP, taxes will go up. If this (composition scheme) is implemented in the appropriate manner, this can lead to greater revenue,” he said. On entertainment tax, he said that single screen cinemas in small towns would be hit if they were taxed at 28 percent and hence, the 18 per cent slab is the correct one. The state would also refund the State GST portion to these cinema halls, he said.