Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey has said it's not fair to say that Goods and Services Tax is responsible for the current economic slowdown. Pandey, who is also the Goods and Services Tax Network Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Unique Identification Authority of India, said the government had formed a panel to have a "holistic view" on GST rates and that the committee was ready to include all suggestions, including those made by various industries.
The GST collection dropped to a 19-month low of Rs 91,916 crore in September, mirroring a widening slowdown in economy triggered by shrinking consumer demand. This is the second straight month of decline in the GST collection. Pandey said contraction in imports and the failure of some sectors to perform well led to a decline in the GST collection.
"In the last two months, cement, autos, the steel didn't perform well and on the imports side too, the collection has seen a decline," he told CNBC-TV18, adding that GST had given "good growth" till two months back and hoped that it would continue to do so.
Pandey said the government was working on ways to meet states' compensation requirements. On the question of declining GST collection, Pandey said it had been a "reflection of how the economy was performing along with collection efficiency".
On bringing aviation turbine fuel and natural gas under the GST, Pandey told the channel: "Earlier the matter was placed before the Council but it had deferred the inclusion. If there is a fresh formal reference made to the Council, it may again consider and discuss it."
Taking about the direct tax legislation, Pandey said the government was considering the task force report on the simplification of direct tax code. "Budget will be the right time to consider the suggestions and recommendations given by the task force," he added.
The Income Tax (I-T) Department this week launched a faceless e-assessment scheme to eliminate interface between an assessing officer and a taxpayer. This is a part of the government's initiative to make tax compliance easier for businesses and individual taxpayers while reducing potential harassment to them.
Pandey, who inaugurated the National e-Assessment Centre (NeAC), said it would remove physical interface between an assessing officer and an assessee. To start with, the I-T Department has picked up over 58,000 cases for the faceless e-assessment scheme and the e-notices have been served before September 30, 2019, for cases of the Assessment Year 2018-19.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had introduced the plan in the Union Budget 2019. In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also announced that taxmen who harass honest taxpayers would be punished. He had asked the Department of Revenue to come up with specific measures to ensure that the honest taxpayers are not harassed and served better.
Edited by Manoj Sharma