Transition to GST Smooth, Arun Jaitley Says in New York
India’s transition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been “fairly smooth”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with the US Chambers of Commerce in New York. Jaitley is on a week-long visit to the United States to attend the annual meets of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Jaitley also decried attempts by “ill informed” Opposition leaders to derail the implementation of the GST. “Many attempts have been made by political groups to derail the GST, but I am glad that their own state governments are not listening to them because they know 80 per cent of the money is going to come to them so they don’t have to appease an ill-informed central leader of the party and let the revenues of their own state suffer,” Jaitley said to the New York audience. “So, the state governments are being wiser.”
The central government has unveiled schemes for the non-compliant as well under the GST, he added, saying that the obvious issue in GST is that the non-compliant are going to come into the net as well.
“So the lowest slab in India is five per cent, which doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. That is because of the non-compliant tax character of the Indian society. You make it easy for people to enter the taxation system that you are able to expand. In the GST, for up to 10 million turnover we now have a scheme for them,” he said.
“We are trying to bring them into the tax net because the first two months data has shown that almost 95 per cent of the tax is just being paid by 400,000 accesses. Therefore, it’s very top heavy in terms of payment. And there’s a need to continue to expand the tax base at the bottom itself.”
Jaitley also spoke about the GST Council in the event, called “India’s market reforms: The Way Forward”. The Council sits every month to review the situation and the rates.
Jaitley also spoke to American investors on recent economic reform initiatives, saying India is a better place to do business now because of the measures taken by the BJP-led government. “The procedures have been simplified and as as much as 95 per cent of the investments are through automatic route, and foreign investment promotion board has been abolished. Today, 99 per cent of tax queries are addressed online,” he said.