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GST roll out next fiscal: Is the govt looking at changing the financial year?

Aiming towards a smooth roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 1 July, the GST Council in its next meeting on 18 February will look into the three laws in GST.

The session by Secretaries Panel at ‘Budget 2017 The Verdict’ of CNBC-TV 18-Mint at Hyatt Regency in New Delhi on Thursday evening discussed GST and its power to arrest disinvestment plan, merger & acquisition, proposal for a new financial year among others in detail.

“Industry is looking forward to the laws and rules. Once they are finalised by the GST Council – it’ll pave way towards implementation of GST from 1 July. The agenda of the next meeting is to look into all the three laws. In the subsequent meetings we’ll take up the rules. As far the rates are concerned, it is going to be a simplistic formula. The council has said that there would be four slabs of rates—5%, 12%, 18% and 28%,” said Revenue Secretary, Hasmukh Adhia.

After the announcement of Budget 2017 on 1 February, West Bengal’s finance minister, who also heads the empowerment panel on GST, sent 16 demands to finance ministry to look into, including the arrest clause. The arrest clause has been described as ‘draconian’ by the West Bengal government.

“Power to arrest the tax defaulters is already there in excise and service tax, and also under VAT law in some states. After an extensive debate, majority in the GST Council decided that no arrest would be made in the case of tax evasion up to Rs 2 crore. However, evader between Rs 2-5 crore will face arrest but get a bail. But above, Rs 5 crore, it’s non-bailable,” he said.

Is there a new financial year on cards?

Economic Affairs secretary, Shaktikant Das said, “The report to change the financial year is under consideration by the government. We’re examining it, and once the decision is taken, it will be communicated.”

On IDBI Bank’s disinvestment plan

The government announced in the Union Budget on 1 February that it hopes to raise Rs 72,500 crore in FY18 by divesting stakes in public sector firms. Compared to the revised estimate of Rs 45,500 crore for FY17, this is an increase of around 60 percent.

While discussing the disinvestment plan of the state-run IDBI Bank, Das said, “The divestment of IDBI Bank is not off the table. The work is in progress. The share value of it in market doesn’t reflect real estate it holds in Mumbai. The real estate valuation needs to be done carefully and transparent decision needs to be taken in this case.”

“We’ve not derailed from the path of financial prudence. Today, our economy needs investment in certain sectors. As per the NK Singh panel, our fiscal deficit target is 3% and we’ll improve it in 2017-18,” added Das.

Priorities in 2017

Ashok Lavasa, Finance Secretary: To ensure that people pay tax and it should be a more a tax compliant society.

Shaktikant Das: Budget 2017 is very strong on reforms and our focus is on implementation.

Hasmukh Adhia: Roll out of GST from 1 July. Year 2017 will be the Year of GST.

Neeraj Gupta, Secretary, Department of Investment and Public Asset Management: Look for a stable and buoyant market.

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