With the launch of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in July 1 2017, the government promised to create a common national market by dismantling fiscal barriers among states.
Two years later, it is still looking to reach a steady state with multiple rate changes, procedural irritants, complex tax filing systems and a five-tier rate structure.
With a massive mandate by its side, BJP’s new federal finance minister will have to move on not only hastening the process of simplifying GST but also building a consensus among states. GST collections largely remained below the monthly average of Rs 1 lakh crore. A major reason for this were several rate changes and the procedural complications that the GST Council has tried to address over the last one-and-a-half year.
In its manifesto, the BJP promised to ease GST-related processes if voted back to power. “To continue with the simplification of GST process by engaging in dialogue with all stakeholders; when compared to base year of 2015-16, GST revenue for all states have increased by 50% in three years,” the BJP said in its poll manifesto ahead of the elections.
Following the law, decisions about changes in GST are taken by the GST Council that is headed by the federal finance minister and state finances ministers as its members.
The Cement Manufacturers Association had been pitching for a cut in the GST to 18 per cent as it would boost infrastructure spending and create jobs, while reducing the costs of buying a house. However, a rate cut in cement to 18 per cent will lead to a loss of Rs 13,000 crore annually to the government.
Now it needs to be seen what the government takes up in its agenda for the first post-election GST Council meeting.