Tax officers from the states and the Centre will get together for a day-long meeting on Monday to discuss administrative, legal, revenue and implementation-related issues under the indirect tax regime. This will mark a first of its kind interaction between central and state tax officers, delinked from the agenda of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting. Usually, officer-level meetings have always taken place a day before the GST Council meetings, mainly to discuss measures outlined in the Council’s meeting agenda.
As slowing revenues under the GST have become a concern, officials from the states and the Centre will discuss measures for anti-evasion, revenue augmentation, compliance, returns filing and online system, officials said. The rates of goods and services will, however, not be discussed since those pertain to the GST Council, they said. Officials said this meeting would be more broad-based, wherein states and the Centre would have a common platform to discuss measures to streamline and regularise many pending issues under the GST. The tax officials are expected to take up issues related to e-way bills, delay in filing returns, IT matters, pending legislative changes, and methods to ensure greater coordination between states and Centre under GST, they said.
“This method to have a common platform for discussion between states and Centre is being tried for the first time. The idea was not to club it with a GST Council meeting and have an open agenda meeting. This was felt necessary so as to develop a mechanism for similar discussions going ahead. The officer-level meetings before Council meetings, otherwise, have too many agenda items and not everything gets discussed in detail,” one of the officials said.
Apart from the administrative- and implementation-related issues, pending legal changes would also be discussed. Another official said many states have not followed up on the amendments in the Central GST (CGST) Act with changes in their respective State GST (SGST) Acts, so much so that in some places there is a time lag of six months. “Such issues need to be prioritised since they are creating a hurdle in proper implementation of GST and would be raised in the meeting,” the official said.
The plan to hold this meeting comes even though the Council last month constituted a committee of officials from states and the Centre for revenue augmentation and looking into wider range of reforms such as systemic changes in the GST, including checks and balances to prevent misuse, measures to improve voluntary compliance, improved compliance monitoring and anti-evasion measures. The committee, which was earlier supposed to submit its report within 15 days, has so far met only once and is now likely to be given an extension of 1-2 months, officials said. ”The committee has a wide range of topics in its terms of reference, so it would take time,” an official said. GST collections in October contracted by 5.29 percent to Rs 95,380 crore from Rs 1,00,710 crore in the year-ago month, marking the third instance of a contraction since the July 2017 roll-out of the indirect tax regime.