GST collections hit five-month high, Govt says shows economy recovering

GST revenue had grown 29.6 per cent YoY in August — it came in at Rs 86,449 crore in August 2020, after which it rose to Rs 95,480 crore in September 2020.

Gross Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue collections in September — for sales in August — rose to a five-month high of Rs 1,17,010 crore, up 22.5 per cent year-on-year, according to latest data.

Although the pace of revenue growth slowed from the previous month due to a waning low base effect from last year, average monthly GST collections in the second quarter this year (Rs 1.15 lakh crore) improved by 5 per cent from the first quarter (Rs 1.10 lakh crore).

Also, monthly collections have continued to improve due to a pickup in economic activity, alongside increased compliance by vendors of bigger companies. This is expected to improve going ahead due to the festive season.

Significantly, a majority of key manufacturing states, including Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, reported a growth of over 20 per cent compared to last year.

“This clearly indicates that the economy is recovering at a fast pace. Coupled with economic growth, anti-evasion activities, especially action against fake billers, have also been contributing to the enhanced GST collections. It is expected that the positive trend in the revenues will continue and the second half of the year will post higher revenues,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

GST revenue had grown 29.6 per cent YoY in August — it came in at Rs 86,449 crore in August 2020, after which it rose to Rs 95,480 crore in September 2020. In September 2020, GST revenues had grown 4 per cent over the revenue of Rs 91,916 crore in September 2019.

Yet, overall revenue buoyancy under GST is seen as a concern, especially after the legally mandated compensation to states for revenue shortfall from GST implementation comes to an end in June 2022.

The Finance Ministry had recently constituted two ministerial panels as the first step towards the first structural overhaul after its July 2017 rollout. A “review” of the current slab structure has been incorporated in the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the panels, according to an order dated September 24.

The panel’s brief incorporates an overarching mandate: an evaluation of “special rates” within the tax structure, rationalisation measures that include “a merger of tax rate slabs aimed at simplifying the rate structure”, a review of instances of inverted duty structure and an identification of potential sources of evasion.

The GST has five key tax slabs: zero, 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent along with 0.25 per cent and 3 per cent rate for precious/ semi-precious stones and gold/ silver, respectively. A compensation cess, ranging between 1 per cent to 290 per cent, is levied on demerit and luxury goods over and above the topmost rate of 28 per cent.

A merger of 5 per cent and 12 per cent slabs or 12 per cent and 18 per cent slabs has been deliberated upon earlier as well but has not been taken up formally for a decision.

Out of the total Rs 1.17 lakh crore collection in September, CGST is Rs 20,578 crore, SGST is Rs 26,767 crore, IGST is Rs 60,911 crore (including Rs 29,555 crore collected on import of goods) and cess is Rs 8,754 crore (including Rs 623 crore collected on import of goods).

The Centre has also released compensation of Rs 22,000 crore to states.

M S Mani, Senior Director, Deloitte India said: “The GST collection figures indicate that growth of the economy is leading to stable collections, which would help in achieving the fiscal deficit target of 6.8% of GDP. Most of the key manufacturing states reporting a growth of 20% plus compared to last year does indicate that an economic revival is clearly in progress across key states.”

Pratik Jain, Partner, Price Waterhouse & Co LLP, said: “Apart from the economy doing better and anti-evasion measures of the government, many large companies are nudging their vendors to be more compliant. In many cases, the payment of vendors is linked with updating of their invoices on the GST portal and timely filing of returns.”

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