Govt may not lower GST

The central government may not accept industry demands to substantially reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for six months to boost demand in the aftermath of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic. The exemption would block input-tax credit that would have an adverse impact on businesses and may not result in any significant gain to consumers, two finance ministry officials said.

Input tax credit reduces the tax paid on inputs from taxes to be paid on output of finished goods. The proposed GST exemption will make output tax zero, blocking the input-tax credit, which will add to the cost of the finished goods, the officials with direct knowledge of the matter said, requesting anonymity.

“This will not only be injurious to the industry but also to the consumer at large and this is certainly not going to revive demand,” one of the officials said. GST is an integrated levy of indirect taxes and the main source of revenue for both the Centre and state governments. It makes up about one-third of total tax receipts. Over 70% of the GST revenue accrues to the states as their own share of the receipts and funds devolved on them by the Centre.

Demand generation looms as a major challenge after the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted and a substantial reduction in GST rates could stimulate demand, some industry associations have argued.
Niranjan Hiranandani, president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham), has proposed a cut in GST rates on almost all products by 50% for six months to boost demand.