Will meet fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of GDP for 2017-18: Hasmukh Adhia

Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia
The government is confident of achieving the fiscal deficit target of 3.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017-18, backed by robust revenue mop-up of both direct and indirect taxes, even as the gap between its revenue and expenditure overshot the revised estimate by 20 per cent till February.


Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Monday said despite last year being full of revenue uncertainty due to the goods and services tax (GST) roll-out, the government had managed to achieve both direct and indirect tax targets for the financial year.


The implementation of the electronic way (e-way) bill system under the GST, from April 1, was further expected to boost revenue flows by plugging loopholes, he said.


“We have exceeded the Budget estimate for direct tax collections. We have also broadly met our target for indirect taxes. We are confident of meeting our fiscal deficit target after receiving revenue figures till March 31,” said Adhia.


Direct tax collections, net of refunds, stood Rs 9.95 trillion, even as figures for March 31 were yet to come. These collections are 17.1 per cent higher than the previous fiscal year’s, 101.5 per cent of the Budget estimate (Rs 9.8 trillion), and 99 per cent of the revised estimate (Rs 10.05 trillion).


“The number is expected to cross the landmark Rs 10 trillion over the next few days once we account for the taxes paid on March 31,” said Adhia.


Net corporation tax recorded a growth rate of 17.1 per cent, while net personal income tax saw a jump of 19.9 per cent. The number of new income tax filers increased 16.3 per cent to 9.9 million, compared with 8.5 million in the previous fiscal.


Adhia also revised up the GST collection figures for February.


The GST revenue trend showed an upswing with Rs 892.60 billion collected under the GST for the month of February. This is higher than the provisional figure of Rs 851.7 billion issued by the government last month. The government has issued Rs 176.1 billion worth of refunds so far.


“The GST collections will further rise as e-way bill has now been rolled out,” Adhia said. It will help in cracking down on tax evaders,” he added.


E-way bill launch ‘successful’


The re-launch of e-way bill for inter-state movement of goods was “successful” and “no glitches were reported”, according to senior officials.


GSTN chairman A B Pandey said 289,000 million e-way bills had been generated on Monday. “259,000 e-way bills generated on April 1, and 289,000 e-way bills were generated today (Monday). The system has now stabilised as there are over 10 million dealers now on the GSTN system,” Pandey said. The bills generated on either of the day were less than 480,000 bills generated on February 1, the earlier launch day, when the e-way bill portal had crashed. As many as 60,000 e-way bills are being generated per hour.


E-way bill is aimed at tracking the movement of consignments worth over Rs 50,000 each for distances of 10 km and above. After the successful roll-out of inter-state e-way bill, the government is expected to soon announce intra-state launch of e-way bill. Karnataka is the only state to have also launched intra-state e-way bill from April 1.


The government has appointed 100 agents all over the country who will help taxpayers with their queries in generating e-way bill. About 1.1 million dealers have registered for the e-way bill so far, in additional to around 20,000 transporters.


The GST collection slowdown had prompted the GST Council to advance the roll-out of the bill to February 1, but ended up getting deferred till April 1 after the portal crashed on the day of roll-out.