Ahead of the 25th meeting of the goods and services tax (GST) Council, the Congress government of Punjab on Wednesday cautioned against introducing frequent changes to the indirect tax regime as well as the hasty introduction of e-way bills.
Blaming the central government for what it called “instalment-based tinkering” of GST rates as well as the numerous changes in rules since the 1 July implementation of GST, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the centre had made life difficult for industry. The planned introduction of e-way bills from 1 February without the required back-end preparedness will exacerbate the problem, he added.
“The frequent revisions in filing dates have completely shattered the faith in the sanctity of the GST reform. On top of it, government is rolling out e-way bills from 1 February without any preparedness,” Badal told reporters at the Congress headquarters in New Delhi.
E-way bills will be implemented across the country for all inter-state movement of goods from 1 February and for all intra-state movement from 1 June.
Under the new system, an e-way bill will have to be generated containing details of the consignment for every inter-state movement of goods of more than 10km and a value of more than Rs50,000.
Badal’s comments come ahead of the GST Council meeting on Thursday which is set to discuss steps to make invoice matching and the returns filing process simpler. The Council will also discuss proposed changes in laws to allow large service sector providers to opt for centralized registration.
The Punjab government also sought the inclusion of petroleum and real estate under GST, with Badal saying these will be the two key issues which will be raised by the Congress at Thursday’s meeting.
“The GST’s agenda that was released by the Council makes it clear that they have not consulted the stakeholders, which should have been their priority. This is leading to a lot of chaos and negativity,” he added.
GST has been in the eye of a political storm between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress party with the latter saying the tax in its current form is creating problems for the business community, especially small and medium enterprises. The indirect tax regime became a key issue in the recently concluded Gujarat elections and the opposition has raised it in two consecutive Parliament sessions.