ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Is the 14% Revenue Guarantee to States Justified?

When the goods and services tax was introduced in July 2017, states were given a revenue guarantee of 14% per annum on their GST revenue over the base year 2015–16. Using data on revenue from subsumed taxes for 24 states and two union territories during the years 2012–16 preceding the GST, it is investigated whether the 14% revenue guarantee was justified. Not many states had a growth rate of subsumed taxes higher than 14% pre-GST, with most of them falling in the 5%–12% growth rate band. It is estimated that the potential savings in the compensation payment due from 1 July 2017 to 31 March 2020—if the states were assured of compensation at their respective historically achieved tax buoyancy—would have ranged between ₹ 1.8 lakh crore and ₹ 2.12 lakh crore.

The Impasse over GST Compensation

The GST council should arrive at a consensus to compensate the states for revenue shortfalls.

Small Businesses, Big Reform

This paper draws evidences from field surveys to bring out the impact of the goods and services tax on the micro, small and medium enterprises by exploring issues of coverage, rate, selection and exemption of taxation, and subsequently, its effect on the competitiveness and viability of these businesses. The coping mechanisms the units undertook to tide over the crisis they faced as well as the GST Council responses are also discussed.

Incongruence between Announcements and Allocations

A scrutiny of the Indian economy and the state of public finances reveals that while there are a few areas of improvement under the current government, the economy remains fragile and, worryingly, the situation has worsened in some other respects. It was hoped that the Union Budget 2018–19 would take measures to address some of these concerns but these expectations have been belied. Budget 2018–19, possibly with an eye on elections, has made grand announcements instead of taking hard decisions and making adequate allocations towards key sectors of the economy.

Small Businesses in the GST Regime

Reforms must bring simplicity and not disruption. Goods and services tax was an opportunity for India to reform its cobweb like indirect taxation structure and reboot the system afresh. Unfortunately, the ground realities suggest otherwise. The way GST has been introduced is too onerous for small businesses. This may further thwart their growth.

Erroneous Understanding of Macroeconomic Challenges

The government chose not to adequately expand budgetary expenditure to stimulate aggregate demand due to an erroneous understanding of India’s macroeconomic challenges. It relies heavily on imagined fiscal gains from demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax regime. The Union Budget 2017–18 was a missed opportunity for the government and our economy.
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