New Delhi, February 3, 2017

GST laws, rules to be finalised by end March, says Revenue Secretary Adhia

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday ruled out a rethink on the Budget proposal to levy a surcharge of 10 per cent on individuals with taxable income of Rs.50 lakh to Rs.1 crore in a year.

“There is equity in the wealthier paying more and I have given data in the Budget speech to show how non-tax compliant we are as a society,” Jaitley said at the post-Budget interactive session with industry chiefs in the Capital on Friday.

Jaitley was responding to Confederation of Indian Industry President Naushad Forbes submission that the 10 per cent surcharge proposal should not have been there in the Budget, as it was “not in the spirit of rewarding honest taxpayers”.

Forbes expressed some disappointment over the Budget not effecting an across-the-board cut in corporate taxes to enable India stay in line with the global trend and help Indian industry stay competitive.

The Centre is looking to mop-up Rs.2,700 crore from its Budget proposal to levy 10 per cent surcharge on certain high income earners. This was being introduced to partly offset the Rs.15,500-crore revenue foregone from its proposal to halve the tax rate on the income slab between Rs.2.5 lakh and Rs.5 lakh.

GST Bills

Jaitley assured industry representatives that the Central GST and iGST Bills would be introduced in the second half of the Budget session.

To a question from Nihal Kothari, who heads Assocham's indirect taxes committee, as to when the laws and rules on GST will be finally ready for industry to prepare itself to adapt to the new framework, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said those would be ready by March 31 this year.

The Goods and Services Tax Council will next meet on February 18 to sort out the remaining issues and finalise the relevant Bills.

Revenue target

Jaitley also said that the revenue target (12 per cent overall increase) for 2017-18 was quite realistic and achievable. He also said that expenditure had not been cut in 2016-17 to maintain fiscal discipline.

The Finance Minister said the government would continue to come up with more steps against the shadow economy.

[The Hindu Business Line]