New Delhi: Ahead of the July 1 rollout of the much talked about Goods and Services Tax (GST), the federal indirect tax council has decided to instruct officers at both central and state levels to practise leniency with traders for procedural lapses in implementation of the tax.
Citing the vastness of the reform as a reason, an official with the council said the central and state authorities will be lenient with traders. “In the first year we have to handhold them rather than penalise them for procedural infractions. Everyone in the council is sensitive about it. Major offences such as clearing of goods without invoices, however, is a different matter,” said the official, choosing to remain anonymous. He also maintained that the GST Council is confident that small and medium businesses are ready for GST.
According to an article in Livemint, the Confederation of All India Traders urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 8 June that a period of nine months beginning 1 July should be declared a transition period during which traders will be given immunity from prosecution for procedural lapses. The subsequent decision by the GST Council therefore comes amidst apprehensions in the trading community that the provisions of the GST law are ‘anti-profiteering’ in nature. It will discourage the business community from passing on their tax liabilities at every stage to the end consumer.
Another government official who chose to remain anonymous said that the last point of sale in villages, that is, when the ultimate consumer purchases, has always been the weakest link in the state-level value-added tax system. While large scale businesses and traders are expected to be well-equipped with their IT systems for the GST rollout, smaller traders, especially those in rural areas may take more time to implement GST due to lack of awareness and infrastructural problems.
Raghav Bandil, a law degree holder and a stone dealer by profession based in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh said “Even if we have to pay for Net banking, the benefits that we get are much more. All the hassle of going to the bank and making payments is eliminated”.
The GST Council will be meeting on Sunday to address sectoral concerns relating to the revised tax rates and to decide on how the anti-profiteering mechanism will work. It has already passed nine rules under GST laws and it is working on a few others which could take time but are not imperative to the rollout. These include rules relating to “advance ruling” and search and arrests. Advance ruling will provide tax payers with an idea of what the tax liability on certain transactions will be in advance.
The GST Council has already established 18 sectoral groups to help in the smooth transition of the rollout and also to address sectoral issues. According to a finance ministry statement, these groups will resolve issues raised by sectors like telecom, banking, oil and gas and mining.