GST collection crosses Rs 1-trillion mark for a second time in 2018-19

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Goods and services tax (GST) collection crossed the trillion mark for the second time in 2018-19. The mop-up touched Rs 1.01 trillion in October, up 6.6 per cent from September’s collection of Rs 944 billion.

Experts attributed this to pick-up in demand in the run-up to the festival season, and the closing of input tax claims for 2017-18. In April, Rs 1.03 trillion was collected. 

The monthly target of Rs 1 trillion for the current financial year was missed for five consecutive months — May to September — followed by the uptick in October.

This improvement comes in the second month after the rates for various goods were slashed on July 26. In the first month — August, for which the tax was collected in September — collection had remained low. But crossing the trillion mark in October signals a stabilisation to some extent, experts said.

“The success of the GST is lower rates, less evasion, higher compliance, only one tax and negligible interference by taxation authorities,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tweeted. However, when it comes to restricting the Centre’s fiscal deficit, a lot depends on GST mobilisation in coming months. 

According to the April-September data from the Controller General of Accounts, central GST (CGST) collection in the first seven months (April-October) stands at Rs 2.64 trillion, which is just 44 per cent of the budgeted CGST revenue of Rs 6.04 trillion. 

More than half the budget expectation needs to be mobilised in the remaining five months. This could turn out to be tricky, especially when government spending is slated to rise on account of various schemes, said experts.

“The fiscal outcome in 2018-19 would depend on the extent to which a host of revenue and expenditure risks crystallise, including meeting GST targets, dividends and disinvestment on revenue side, and outlays for revised minimum support prices, Ayushman Bharat, subsidies and bank recapitalisation on the expenditure side," said Aditi Nayar, principal economist, Icra.

Tax collected as CGST stood at Rs 165 billion, SGST at Rs 228 billion, while Integrated GST (IGST) at Rs 534 billion in October, all of them showing an increase over the September collection. The rise in October is owing to a multitude of factors, said a senior government official.“The IGST on account of imports has risen partially due to the depreciation of the rupee. Preceded by Navratri, Dusshera and Diwali, the production and wholesale trade of festive consumption items picked up in September,” he said.

Officials said recent corporate results showed an uptick in sales of tractors and construction equipment, or largely the capital goods segment, which contributed to the increase. 

In addition, the October 25 deadline for filing returns to claim input credit for the previous financial year 2017-18 added to the rise, said Pratik Jain, partner and leader, indirect tax at PwC. “It would have prompted larger businesses nudging their vendors to report the transactions and pay pending GST,” he said.

M S Mani, partner at Deloitte, attributed the spike partially to anti-evasion measures taken. An amount of Rs 326 billion in the IGST account was settled between states and the Centre in regular mode. 

In addition, Rs 300 billion was apportioned in a 50:50 ratio between states and the Centre using an ad hoc settlement. Such an ad hoc settlement is generally done with the balance in the IGST account that cannot be accurately apportioned due to procedural factors. 

In terms of compensation cess, Rs 550 billion, 60 per cent of the budgeted revenue of Rs 900 billion, has been collected in the first seven months of the financial year.

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