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Statistics ministry seeks GST data to improve national accounts
October, 26th 2018

The statistics ministry has sought quarterly goods and services tax (GST) data and information on tax paying units to improve the quality of both National Accounts Statistics and state-level accounts.

The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MoSPI) has reached out to the finance ministry for GST data on tax collections along with summary information on units, classification-wise, that have paid taxes for use in compilation of national and state-level accounts, officials familiar with the development told ET.

“We have asked finance ministry for GST data on output, input and revenue,” said an official. “They are aware of our request but are waiting for the GST data and system to stabilise.” Independent economists said the move will make proxies cleaner, reduce data collection costs and help obtain higher quality statistical data.

“We have asked finance ministry for GST data on output, input and revenue,” said an official. “They are aware of our request but are waiting for the GST data and system to stabilise.” Independent economists said the move will make proxies cleaner, reduce data collection costs and help obtain higher quality statistical data.

“GST should be leveraged for national statistics because it will improve data by making it quick, timely and robust,” said D K Joshi, chief economist at top credit rating firm Crisil. “Besides reducing costs, the response burden will also go down substantially. This process should be initiated as soon as possible,” he said.

Once a list of units registered under GST is provided to MoSPI to update business registers, these can be used to conduct various statistical surveys, experts said.

At present, the statistics released by MoSPI are based on administrative sources, surveys and censuses conducted by the central and state governments and non-official sources and studies.

To address privacy and competition related concerns, MoSPI has suggested that the finance ministry share data without naming any companies. “They are dealing with data of companies which is sensitive from competition point of view,” said the government official quoted earlier. “Also, firms might not be comfortable one government department sharing their details with another.”

Keeping in view the legal provisions and practices in other countries like Australia where tax data is shared with statistical agencies, it was suggested that similar protocols be worked out by the central board of indirect taxes and customs to share tax data with statistical agencies.

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