With the Centre not being able to increase its GST collections, efforts are now underway to tighten regulations and to re-examine incentives and export benefits. Before the GST Council meet on March 14, the National GST Conference of commissioners of state tax and zonal chief commissioners of central tax met in Delhi to discuss the fall in GST collections. This meet was chaired by Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also present. The focus of the meeting was streamlining the GST return filing process, enhancing revenue and focused compliance management with an aim to create synergy among central and state tax administrations.
Tax evasion was discussed at length during the conference, along with enforcement measures. The States, namely Rajasthan, West Bengal, Odisha, Gujarat and Punjab also made presentations on best practices followed by them in compliance management and revenue augmentation in their tax administration. Rajasthan government has been stringently checking vehicles for tax evasion. Government reports suggest that the government recovered Rs 75 crore during checking of 2,700 vehicles. The state government in Rajasthan also took strict action against GST fraudsters in Bhiwadi, Jodhpur and Kota. In addition, the recently-tabled Rajasthan Budget proposed a GST Audit Authority and Business Intelligent Unit for efficient management of commercial taxes and to detect fraud. In Gujarat, the anti-corruption bureau has been very active in getting a hold of fraudulent tax payers.
The Punjab government has also taken measures in this direction by tying up with USA-based Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to check tax evasion and improve the goods and services tax (GST) collection in the state. Both the partners are working on a multi-pronged approach to tax compliance reported in the state. The project proposes the use of machine-learning to reduce the burden on tax officials as they detect tax evasion. All the concerned states made presentations and discussed at length various modus-operandi detected by them and measures they took to check GST fraud. In the upcoming GST meet, ways to ensure GST compliance will be a key matter of discussion. States will also mention their grievances on revenue shortage and falling GST collections as many states have revised their GST collection figures in the recent past.