Kolkata, May 31, 2017

West Bengal has achieved the highest percentage (91%) of enrollment in Goods and Services Tax (GST) through the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) among the states in India till date said Mr Bijay Kumar, Principal Commissioner, Service tax of Kolkata Commissionerate in a release issued by CII.

Mr. Kumar presented the data at the inaugural session of the CII-organized two-day GST Training Programme on Transition to GST Implementation which was attended by about 100 industry members more than 50% of whom were from large units.

According to data available with CII, VAT migration in West Bengal is quite impressive at 86.6%. Moreover, Kolkata ranks third among all the cities in the number of GST enrolment, the first and second cities being Ahmedabad and Mysore respectively, says the data.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the training programme, a senior official from the Commercial Tax Department of West Bengal said the State Government is trying to make “GST system as simpler as possible” for businesses in the state, the CII release added.

Currently, books are kept outside the purview of VAT. The West Bengal government wants to keep books tax-free in GST regime, too, keeping in mind the love for books the people in this state have is profound,” the official said. “Footwear is another important product – reason why the state government is working on a proposal to keep footwear below Rs 500 free of GST,” the official said.

 Earlier, Mr Bijay Kumar mentioned that GST will be efficient and technology-driven. The GST Council will sort out the challenges regarding the rates. “Dual GST in India will consist of Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST). In place of Central Sales Tax (CST) there will be IGST which will be known as Integrated Tax,” he said, adding that 180 outreach programmes have been organized by the Government through GST Mobile Van, GST Walkathon, GST Morning Walk seminars, etc. A GST Motorbike Rally is also being planned, he said. Mr Kumar also advised businesses to share their mobile number at the time of registration.

Mr Dev Kumar Rajwani, Assistant Commissioner, Service Tax-I Commissionerate, Kolkata, said the Government is proactive in sensitizing people and organizing several outreach programmes for industry. He listed the benefits of GST saying not only will there be “overall price reduction for consumers”, but will also see decrease in municipal tax.

“There will be a free flow of goods and services with no checkpoints. There will be non-intrusive electronic tax compliance system,” Mr Rajwani said.
As to alcohol rate, he said states will decide as it is out of GST. “As to petroleum products and other fuels, GST Council will decide later. The date will be notified soon. Entertainment tax which used to be levied by local body will continue in the current format,” he said.

Mr Rajwani also shared the Government’s projection that GST will fuel overall gain to the GDP in the range of 0.9 – 1.7%. The Tax-GDP ratio is estimated to rise from 16.5 to 25% after GST implementation, he said.

[The Economic Times]