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FM Arun Jaitley puts Goods and Services Tax front and centre on Narendra Modi govt agenda
May, 28th 2014

Keen to push the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today expressed desire to hold an early meeting with the state finance ministers signalling the Narendra Modi government’s positive intent on the subject.

He also asked revenue officials to appraise him of the developments on the GST through a separate presentation on the issue, sources said.

During a presentation by Revenue Secretary Rajiv Takru to the new Finance Minister, who took charge yesterday, the officials appraised him of the problems and challenges being faced on the revenue front.

Jaitley, according to sources, expressed keenness to meet state finance ministers on the GST, the new indirect taxes regime which will subsume various levies like excise, service and various local taxes.

The UPA government in 2011 introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha to pave the way for the GST regime which aims at subsuming most of the indirect taxes at the central as well as the state levels.

The ruling party BJP in its manifesto has committed to “bring on board all state governments in adopting GST, addressing all their concerns”.

Besides GST, Jaitley also inquired from the revenue officials the reasons for failure in achieving the tax collection target.

The officials, according to sources, attributed the shortfall in revenue collection to moderation in industrial activity and slowdown in imports.
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The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) remained almost flat during the 2013-14, recording a marginal decline of 0.1 per cent.

Oil and non-oil imports in April declined by 0.6 per cent and 21.5 per cent to USD 12.97 billion and 22.74 billion respectively, indicating a slowdown in industrial activity as well as duty collections.

The government had estimated gross revenue collection of Rs 12,35,870 crore in 2013-14, but later revised it downward to Rs 11,58,905 crore.

The issues concerning gold imports too came up for the discussions during the presentation. The officials pointed out that hike in import duty on gold has led to increased smuggling of the precious metal.

Industry has been demanding easing of curbs on gold imports put in place last year to check high Current Account Deficit (CAD).
The import duty was hiked thrice to 10 per cent last year and RBI too put several restrictions on the import. However, the central bank has been gradually easing the restrictions

 
 
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