Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the Central government is plugging the loopholes in the Good and Services Tax (GST) with the use of technology and is working towards eight per cent growth rate.
On bringing petrol and diesel under GST regime, she said given that at the time of implementation, the zero rate for fuel had been taken for GST, the onus lay on the GST Council, consisting of state Finance Ministers, to decide on that and once they agree, then the constitutional amendment would be done.
Sitharaman was here to explain the Budget proposals to traders, industrialists, economists and the media. In the last three months, the GST collections had exceeded Rs 1 lakh crore, while month on month, they were improving, she said.
She said at the GST Council, state Finance Ministers had said that owing to loopholes, tax revenue was not accruing to the government. This is now being plugged.
The GST collections during November and December 2019 were about Rs 1,04,000 crore and Rs 1,03,000 crore respectively and in January it was Rs 1,11,000 crore, said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Revenue Secretary. According to Pandey, the government is taking various measures like use of data analytics, data from Income Tax filings, exports and imports and identify where taxes are not being paid.
Pointing out that there are about 1.20 crore entities registered under GST, he said red flag reports are prepared every month and SMS messages are sent to those on whom red flag reports are made.
Pandey said if the tax paid and the tax due difference is large than the taxpayers and also tax officials are notified. “This has resulted in higher tax collections,” he said.
According to him, the government will continue to use targeted approach and also use data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Pandey also said once the Finance Bill is passed by Parliament the government will put out the procedure to be followed under ‘Viwad Se Vishwas’ scheme for settling pending direct tax issues.
He also said where the tax department of the government has filed an appeal against the taxpayer then that would be withdrawn.
Queried about the new tax slab rates that would turn India from a saving economy to spending economy, Sitharaman said that an earning individual with additional money on his hands can decide what to do with it and the government need not guide his savings through tax deductions.
Marathon Budget speech aimed at covering all aspects: FM
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said her two hour plus Budget speech days ago was inevitable since every aspect of the economy warranted a careful response and expressed regret for putting people to inconvenience.
The minister, when asked if such a lengthy Budget speech was warranted, which drove her to a point of exhaustion, something which was not seen in the past few decades, said it was needed.
“It was needed. Definitely it was needed. I would have completed reading out the remaining portion after drinking water,” she said addressing a press conference.
A Kashmiri verse, quotes from Tamil poets and references to Saraswati-Sindhu civilisation peppered Sitharaman’s 160- minute long marathon Budget speech on February 1, which got cut short at the fag end after she felt unwell. “Sorry. I agree, all of you were put to inconvenience. I don’t know if you thought (why) thislady was talking for about two and a half hours. But I had things to be spelt out and we have a duty to implement and we will do it,” she said.
Pointing to elaborate pre-Budget consultations with stakeholders and efforts to fulfil the aspirations of every sector, she said she had a need to speak for such a duration and it became “inevitable.”
“I did not speak to create any record, but every aspect of the economy warranted a careful response and it made the speech lengthy.” After around 150 minutes, Sitharaman appeared tired and sipped water at least thrice before cutting short her speech in Parliament.
In between when a staff member went to get a glass of water, Sitharaman took a candy that was offered by Gadkari. Ministerial colleague Harsimrat Kaur Badal also came up to the finance minister and offered her a candy. Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah were also seen talking to her. Unable to continue, she told the Speaker to consider the rest of the speech as laid in the House and sat down. Soon after the proceedings were adjourned, Modi walked upto her and greeted her.
Nirmala Sitharaman’s first Budget speech in July 2019 went on for around 137 minutes. Incidentally, when she was addressing the post budget press conference here, Secretary, Economic Affairs, Atanu Chakraborty, who was seated rightnext to the minister,repeatedly dozed off, prompting photo journalists to click photographs.