Govt to widen us­age of GST data­base

Business Standard - - ECONOMY & FINANCE - INDIVJAL DHASMANA

The goods and ser­vices tax (GST) might find use in na­tional ac­counts be­yond the rou­tine ap­pli­ca­tion of in­di­rect taxes in con­vert­ing gross value added (GVA) into gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP).

“We have started an ex­er­cise to look into this. A group com­pris­ing of­fi­cials of the na­tional ac­counts di­vi­sion is ex­am­in­ing this is­sue,” TC A Anant, the gov­ern­ment’s chief statis­ti­cian, told Busi­ness Stan­dard.

The GST, he noted, was more than a tax, since as­sessees file re­turns and de­scribe ac­tiv­i­ties on which the tax is levied, be­sides a whole bunch of other in­for­ma­tion. “In B2B (busi­ness-to-busi­ness) trans­ac­tions, we can track the value chain. The na­tional ac­counts com­mit­tee is look­ing at it. It is at least worth prob­ing,” Anant said. The group will check if there are le­gal or tech­ni­cal hurdles in the way. In the old tax­a­tion sys­tem as well, such fil­ings were done in the case of value-added tax, cen­tral ex­cise duty and ser­vice tax, but those were in sep­a­rate data­bases. So, the sys­tem’s abil­ity to use the data was some­what lim­ited.

“We had in the past con­ducted dis­cus­sions to see if we could get more mileage from these data­bases. How­ever, these re­mained at dis­cus­sion level and not con­verted into out­comes,” Anant said.

There were many rea­sons for this. First, the process of com­put­er­i­sa­tion of tax fil­ings started around 2005-06, the ser­vice tax bit ear­lier and cen­tral ex­cise a bit later. It got stan­dard­ised around 2010-11.

“We started look­ing at it when we were do­ing prepara­tory work for base re­vi­sion. Partly be­cause of that frag­mented na­ture, we were un­able to get any mileage from it. By 2015, it be­came clearer that these in­di­rect taxes would be taken over by the GST. Now, we have greater ad­van­tage as the GST cov­ers both goods and ser­vices.”

So far as the usual use of the GST for con­vert­ing GVA into GDP is con­cerned, Anant said it was sim­ply a ques­tion of get­ting the data on the GST col­lec­tion and ver­ify how much of it is at­trib­ut­able to the Cen­tre and how much to state col­lec­tion. With the lat­ter, there will be an ad­di­tional bit of in­for­ma­tion, on how much was col­lected by spe­cific states and the share they got from the Cen­tre.

“This you may call a rou­tine part of the GST data­base. For us, num­bers are im­por­tant be­cause we use these — over­all tax col­lec­tions in na­tional ac­counts and, sim­i­larly, spe­cific state fig­ures for its GSDP,” he said. Much of in­di­rect taxes, net of sub­si­dies, are used for con­vert­ing GVA into GDP, both at cur­rent prices and at con­stant prices. Ear­lier, a panel headed by for­mer NITI Aayog vice-chair­man Arvind Pana­gariya had sug­gested us­ing the data on the GST Net­work (GSTN), the levy’s in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy back­bone, to as­sess the job market. It rec­om­mended us­ing reg­is­tra­tion and en­rol­ment on the GSTN as a sam­ple for en­ter­prise sur­vey, to be con­ducted an­nu­ally. So far, a lit­tle over nine mil­lion as­sessees have reg­is­tered on the GSTN. High-fre­quency data, monthly or quar­terly, might be con­ducted on the sub­set of the GSTN. The panel also sug­gested mak­ing the GSTN the uni­ver­sal es­tab­lish­ment num­ber and the in­come taxbased per­ma­nent ac­count num­ber em­bed­ded with the GSTN the uni­ver­sal en­ter­prise num­ber.

“IN B2B TRANS­AC­TIONS, WE CAN TRACK THE VALUE CHAIN. THE NA­TIONAL AC­COUNTS COM­MIT­TEE IS LOOK­ING AT IT. IT IS AT LEAST WORTH PROB­ING” TC A Anant Chief statis­ti­cian

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