Revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia tells HT that the GST council, which will be mandated to set the rate of the tax, will have to work overtime to achieve the expected deadline of April 1, 2017. Excerpts from an interview:
How hopeful are you of about April 1, 2017 deadline?
Yes, we are hopeful and positive. About the administrative work of central government, I am 100% confident, but it would be difficult to give similar guarantee in respect of the time taken in the process of achieving consensus on various issues. That is crucial.
Is the government aiming to have a rate lower than 18%?
The rate and rate structure can only be based on facts and figures which are to be discussed in the GST Council. At the moment it is not possible to say yes or no to any such artificial number.
What about developing consensus in the GST council?
This process of developing consensus in the GST council is going to be our greatest challenge. In order to achieve the target date of April 1, 2017, the GST council will have to work overtime.
Traders are hesitant of the GST? what do you have to say?
The possibility of tax incidence on majority of the items coming down is far greater compared to rates going up. Of course the compliance of tax payment will improve. However, the way the systems are being designed the traders do not have to worry about the compliance burden.
GST will increase tax revenues but that will have to be shared with states? Will it affect the fiscal roadmap?
GST is unlikely to cause loss to gross domestic product. However, if projections are not met it may have an impact on the fiscal deficit to that extent. Also, the requirement of compensation to be given will have to be included while calculating central government’s share in GST revenues.
How crucial is GST to curb black money?
GST would help in bringing most of transactions of goods and services in the books. This would help us in reducing the cash economy. However, the overall impact of reduction of black money will come with combined effect of measures taken by the government on direct taxes also.
GST means more online transactions. In the age of increasing cyber frauds, how will the government cope with that ?
Digital banking is the order of the day. We cannot think of going back to the old system of manual banking. Cyber frauds have to be tackled with greater digital security. The digital revolution is irreversible now.