Saturday November 17, 2018
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Winter Session: Govt seeks support from Opposition on GST

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New Delhi: Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill, hung in the last parliamentary session is expected to be revived in the upcoming winter session. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley expressed the BJP-led NDA government’s enthusiasm to debate with the Congress-led UPA Opposition on the prospects of bringing amendments to the bill.

Although, Jaitley mentioned that the some of the suggestions made by Congress are not the larger interest of the bill.

However, the Opposition is actually helping the NDA government by its fractured stance on the bill. Congress doesn’t have a clear position on the bill as they are not ethically against the principles of the GST. 

Several of the Congress allies are not against the bill such as the IUML and the Kerala Congress. The Kerala Congress (M) said they were not adversarial to the GST.

It should be noted that the committee of state finance ministers is currently chaired by K M Mani of the Kerala Congress (M).

However, the government strongly wants to implement GST by April next year. Although it can get delayed if the bill is not passed in the Winter Session.

The government, in the meantime, is trying to tweak the demands put forth by the opposition parties. If all the demands proposed by the Congress party are accepted that would lead to doing away with more than a dozen state-owned levies.

This tax reform is one of the most ambitious adaptation to create a single market since India’s Independence.

The GST was proposed in 2006-07 by the UPA government and the then administration had also accepted the changes recommended by the Empowered Committee and the Standing Committee on Constitutional amendment, piloted by the ruling party.

The government is now trying to appeal to parties like AIADMK, Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal (United) to help reduce government’s isolation.

Emphasising on the cooperative intentions of the government, Arun Jaitley was quoted as saying in an interview with a newspaper, “We are reaching out to them, we are willing to discuss with them because some of these suggestions may not necessarily be in the larger interest of the GST structure.” 

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Filing GST Returns Too Taxing

It has made it mandatory for tax payers to file the income tax return by 31st of July. In case of the delay, the fine of Rs. 5000/- per file is being imposed

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GST
GST is one of the strongest step taken in the direction of Digital Technology.

By Salil Gewali

No doubt the NDA government in the center brought about remarkable changes in the market and the fiscal policy. One of those includes GST with a strong backup of the digital technology. No one would disagree that this will contribute immensely to the nation building and boosting its economy. Many world economists are lauding the India’s move in this direction. Well, for all such dramatic changes our techno-savvy PM Modi’s relentless dedication and innovation is highly praiseworthy.

But, however, there are “murmurs of dissatisfaction” among the middle-class traders these days. The displeasure expressed by the business community is all about the government’s rigid diktat for the GST filing. The administration is apparently putting the hard squeeze on the middle and upper middle class traders and entrepreneurs to file GST “before 20th of each month”. In case of a delay, the penalty of Rs 50/- per day is slapped which is a huge disappointment. How on earth does the government expect each trader to have the computer knowledge? Most of the small traders have not yet touched the desktop. So, they all rush to the nearby tax professionals to do the job. Just imagine how a few tax experts in the town match up to the countless GST payers. Can ten thousands sick patients be treated by one single doctor in a short span of time? This is totally impractical.

GST
The displeasure expressed by the business community is all about the government’s rigid diktat for the GST filing.

Each tax expert has to file the return for the minimum 300 to 800 clients per month and that number is increasing by leaps and bounds. The traders are required to keep the detail account of all sales and purchases throughout the month for which they have to bear a good deal of incidental expenditures. Many erroneous entries are usually made in the filing of GST, but once the file submitted that can’t be revised. Usually, the last two days of the GST filing is a nightmare. Because the site is clogged due to heavy traffic. Does the government want the small traders being harassed and bugged out thus? Mere imposing the hard regulations will never yield the positive result.

There is another shocker of this government. It has made it mandatory for tax payers to file the income tax return by 31st of July. In case of the delay, the fine of Rs. 5000/- per file is being imposed. This is indeed a cruel imposition that might just bruise the confidence of obedient tax payers. Given the literacy rate and very poor “professionalism” in India, such hard decrees by the government only make the citizens more annoyed than happy. Here I intensely doubt if it is the BJP government that wishes so much hardship upon the public. Is it not trusting 1.25 billion Indians, as touted by our astute PM Modi, who all have been standing for him through thick and thin? I think the finance ministry immediately needs some overhauling for the interest of the general public.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.