Industry pitches for 18% GST, exemptions for e-comm players

By: | Published: August 30, 2016 8:42 PM

India Inc today pressed for keeping GST at a maximum 18 per cent while e-commerce firms sought to be kept out of the new regime, as state finance ministers began consultations on deciding the rate for the unified nation-wide indirect tax.

Amit Mitra-PTI-LThey also demanded relaxation in penal provisions while admitting that April 1, 2017, deadline will be tough as they need sufficient time to put in place the IT infrastructure. (PTI)

India Inc today pressed for keeping GST at a maximum 18 per cent while e-commerce firms sought to be kept out of the new regime, as state finance ministers began consultations on deciding the rate for the unified nation-wide indirect tax.

They also demanded relaxation in penal provisions while admitting that April 1, 2017, deadline will be tough as they need sufficient time to put in place the IT infrastructure.

“A lot will depend on the timing of rules and notifications. (About April 2017), it looks difficult,” Ficci said.
In its first meeting after Parliament cleared the landmark Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill earlier this month, the empowered committee of state finance ministers, headed by West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra, discussed the issue with industry bodies, traders and chartered accountants.

“The committee is taking (feedback) in an open and transparent manner from the businesses of India, whether they are big, medium or small. Many points were made looking at GST from the other side — those who would be paying taxes — as against the government which would be collecting taxes,” Mitra said after the meeting.

According to India Inc, a reasonable rate will generate adequate tax buoyancy without fuelling inflation. The constitutional amendment mandates that at least half of the 29 states and two Union Territories should ratify the Bill for its rollout. So far, 13 states have approved the legislation.

Once implemented, the national tax will subsume indirect ones like excise duty, service tax and VAT. At today’s meeting, online retailers submitted that they only provide a ‘platform’ to vendors and customers and do not make money out of the sales. So, companies like Flipkart, Amazon India and Snapdeal are only ‘service providers’ to the vendors and are liable to pay GST only on service income.

CII President Naushad Forbes said, “We believe a maximum rate of 18 per cent as the standard rate will be revenue neutral and ensure adequate tax buoyancy. Also, the Centre has agreed to a full 5-year compensation for revenue loss to states. So, 18 per cent rate will be more than adequate.”
Ficci on its part suggested that the standard rate should be “reasonable” and be such that it checks inflation and tendency to evasion and ensures compliance.

“Goods fully exempted from the levy of excise duty and VAT by all the states should be categorised as exempted goods in the GST regime as well,” it suggested. As for preparedness for the GST rollout, Forbes said CII is committed to April 1 deadline and will do “everything we can to ensure we stick to the deadline”.

“If we work towards that deadline and have clarity on some of the provisions as early as possible, we can ensure our own IT systems are put in place quickly so that we can go live as early as possible,” Forbes said.

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