GST collections up by 4.5% but still lower than government projections

The gross goods and services tax (GST) collection in August, 2019 stood at Rs 98,202 crore, up 4.51 per cent compared to Rs 93,960 crore in the same month last year.

The GST collection, although higher on year-on-year basis, is still lower than government's expectations of Rs 1 lakh crore.

"The gross GST revenue in the month of August, 2019 is Rs 98,202 crore of which CGST is Rs 17,773 crore, SGST is Rs 24,239 crore, IGST is Rs 48,958 crore (including Rs 24,818 crore collected on imports) and cess is Rs 7,273 crore (including Rs 841 crore collected on imports)," a Finance Ministry statement said.

The total number of summary returns in GSTR 3B forms filed in the month of July upto August 31 was 75.8 lakhs.

Tax experts said that indirect tax collection in the month of August is generally subdued due to seasonality factor and hence may not be considered a reflection of consumption slowdown. They see collection figure picking up from the month of October with the onset of festive season.

"One month data cannot indicate business reality," said Amit Bhagat, Partner, indirect tax practice, Dhruva Advisors.

Amit Kumar Sarkar, Managing Partner, Versari Advisors India LLP said that people are having concerns about government meeting the budget target for GST collections. Though the revenue mop-up remains challenging for the government, Sarkar sees an upward trend in collection in months to come.

"With the start of festive season in the month of October consumption peaks up and hence collection would be higher. It has to be seen as to how October-December period pans out," he said.

A lower GST mop-up is set to strain government finances and make it difficult to meet fiscal target. Besides, the burden would increase on the Centre for compensating states for revenue shortfall. The pressure on the revenue department could also go up to meet the targets which in turn may result in coercive actions against trade and businesses.

The official statement said that a total of Rs 27,955 crore was released to the states as GST compensation for the month of June-July, 2019.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had last month significantly lowered her projections for GST collections in the Budget for 2019-20 against the interim Budget presented in February. Accordingly, Centre expects to collect Rs 6.63 lakh crore, down 13 per cent against previous estimate of Rs 7.6 lakh crore.

Rolled out in July, 2017 and billed as the biggest economic reform, GST subsumed 17 different indirect taxes and 13 cesses making India "One Nation One Tax One Market."
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