Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Nov 2017 11:06:42

CONTINUING with its policy of providing ‘Ease in doing business’, the Central Government has made a big rejig by slashing rates across the board on over 200 items, including 178 daily items. The Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council has also given a much-needed breather to the small and medium enterprises by easing norms of filing returns. It is another welcome step by the Central Government that keeps public participation at the core of its functioning.

The rate changes and easing of other norms are consonant to the continuous feedback from various stakeholders. The feel-good package is set to reduce the anxiety among the businesses and consumers alike over various costs and compliance rules. It is set to give further momentum to the tax reforms and major boost to the ‘Ease of Business’ initiative.

By bringing a major chunk of goods and services in the tax bracket of 18% and keeping only the ‘sin’ goods in the higher bracket of 28% the government has sent a welcome message to the end-users that it was open for their overall good. It also reflects the openness of the Narendra Modi-led government. Prime Minister Mr Modi has continuously advocated for having “people-friendly and people-centric decisions”. The course correction by the GST Council is a clear reflection of the government’s policy of keeping the nation first.

Instead of welcoming the openness of the Government in making people-oriented decisions the Opposition, including former Finance Minister Mr P Chidambaram, are busy in finding political motives especially in wake of the assembly elections in Gujarat. The decision is definitely not for any political gains but for larger national good. It shows the all-accommodating nature of the planners who have addressed the concerns of the state governments as well as the end-user.

The Government does not need such concessions for gaining political mileage. Case in point is the overwhelming majority the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) received in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections despite the bogey of demonetisation failure raised by the Opposition parties.

“All our decisions are people-inspired, people-friendly and people-centric. We are working tirelessly for India’s economic integration through GST,” Mr Modi said after the biggest tax rejig since the indirect tax system took effect on July 1. Any system after its implementation keeps on evolving constantly. After initial hiccups, the positives of GST impact are bearing out. Tax collections have seen a big jump and India Inc. has willingly accepted the One Nation One Tax idea.

The Central Government now needs to ensure that the benefits are passed on to the consumers. Even if that needs invoking of anti-profiteering clause against the defaulters.