July 2019

GST @ 2 – A SHORT WISH LIST

Sunil Gabhawalla
Chartered Accountant

The Editor of BCAJ assigned me the responsibility of writing an article with the above title. What a thoughtful title this is! GST was launched two years ago with much fanfare and celebrations on 1st July, 2017 and has substantially lived up to the expectations. The fireworks are now over. The benefits of GST are there for the country to see. However, as it completes two years of existence, the million-dollar question is “What next?” The question begs attention also in the context of the results of the Lok Sabha elections and the re-institution of the NDA government in its second term. With the government looking towards a “New India” and simplified taxation under the leadership of a new Finance Minister, it is now time to look at new ideas and present a wish list which could capitalise on the journey traversed so far and take India to the next trajectory in terms of consolidation, improving “Ease of Doing Business” and putting the country on the path towards achieving a $5 trillion economy. So here we go:

 

1. EXPAND THE COVERAGE OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES UNDER GST


The success of GST is there for all to see. If, as legislators, we believe that GST has been a path-breaking reform towards simplification of indirect taxes, what forces us to exclude certain pockets of industry from reaping the benefits of this simplification? The unanimity of numerous decisions taken in the GST Council over the last couple of years has shown that the dynamics of conflicting Centre-State interests no longer takes precedence over national interest and that where there is a will, there is a way. If that be so, it’s time to step away from the easy approach of providing excuses and postponing the inevitable – and to take that bold step to include petroleum, real estate and electricity into the GST Net.

 

Despite all noble intentions, exemptions from payment of tax are provided under the legislation. At first brush, the industry welcomes such exemptions and resists the withdrawal of such exemptions. However, as reality sinks in, the industry realises that each exemption results in additional costs in terms of denial of credits. Also, the innovative minds of the tax administrators can result in a treatise of narrow interpretation of exemption entries resulting in virtual uncertainty and rude shocks

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