January 22, 2017
All India Association of Group B Central Excise Gazetted Executive Officers have written to Arun Jaitley asking for their concerns to be addressed.
Claiming that demonetization has affected the country's growth, a major central revenue body has asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley not to implement Goods and Services Tax (GST) in a hurry and threatened to take legal recourse in case their concerns are not addressed.
It termed as "illegal" certain decisions taken by Jaitley-headed GST Council and demanded that they be corrected.
It also sought that the officer's body be consulted before any final decision is taken.
The Council in its meeting on January 16, had agreed to give states the powers to levy tax on economic activity within 12 nautical miles of territorial waters.
Also, it was decided that the states will have powers to assess and administer 90% of the taxpayers under Rs 1.5 crore annual turnover, while the remaining would be controlled by the Centre.
In a letter to Jaitley, the All India Association of Group B Central Excise Gazetted Executive Officers, said the decision to transfer 90% of service tax assessees to states is not supported by any lawful and logical base and therefore, the decisions taken by GST Council should be withdrawn immediately.
"Needless to say, any judicial intervention in the illegal decisions taken by GST Council, and if implemented by the Centre, would cause unnecessary delay in the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
"It is further added that due to demonetization of old bank notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, the GDP of the country is expected to fall at least 1% (from 7.6 estimated to 6.6%, as reviewed), and in case implementation of GST is delayed further, due to judicial scrutiny of the illegal decisions taken by GST Council, the country may suffer economically as the GDP may further slow down," it said.
It said the GST Council has not been conferred upon any power by the Constitution to recommend transfer of rights or allowing levy and collection of IGST (which deals in levy on inter-state supply including stock transfers of goods or services) to states.
It said the area in sea (territorial waters) up to 12 nautical miles from the coastline falls within the territory of India and therefore, the powers to tax transactions in such areas are vested in the Union Government.
"The decision taken by the GST Council to empower states to levy state GST or central GST or IGST, as the case may be, is in gross violation of the constitutional provisions," the association said.
The GST is likely to be rolled out from July 1, as against April 1 decided earlier by the government.
There is no logic or rationale, legally, to transfer the 90% GST assessees to states for the purpose of audit and assessment, it said.
"Moreover, the service tax assessees falling within the annual turnover limit of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1.5 crore are at present being assessed by the Centre smoothly. By transferring of 90% of these assessees to states for levy and collection of SGST and CGST, the officers of the Centre would become work-less," the association said in the letter.
The transparency in collection of CGST from these 90% assessees may be compromised in the hands of state officers, said the body which claims to represent about 50,000 Group B and Group C tax employees.
"Would the Centre like to empower CBI and CVC to have their jurisdiction upon states' officers also for any laxity or compromise by these officers in revenue collection of CGST? "Would states allow these organisations to interfere in the functioning of their officers? Does the GST Council take guarantee that any laxity or collusion with the trades, and compromise to collect CGST revenue would be investigated by CBI and CVC in case of states' officers?" it asked.
The association "condemns and opposes the illegal decisions" taken by the GST Council and expresses anguish among its members over the transfer of their taxing powers to state officers, the letter said.
"You are requested to please take immediate necessary action to resolve these issues. Otherwise, the association will call for a meeting of its all members and pass a resolution to oppose the decisions taken by the GST Council, initiate non-cooperation movement towards implementation of GST, and may also take legal course of action to protect the levy and collection powers of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
"Any such decisions taken by GST Council, without prior consultation from the associations of affected officers of CBEC, would be agitated, leading to country-wide protest agitation against the decisions taken by the GST Council, unilaterally," it said.
[Daily News and Analysis]