Eyeing ‘19 polls, govt working to allay traders’ GST fears

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre may surprise the trading community, the traditional vote base of the BJP, by bringing in constitutional amendments and make GST a lot more easier and more friendlier before the 2019 hustings.

The changes are expected to be far more deeper than the cosmetic rate cuts done until now. Behind the curtain preparations suggest the GST Council may recommend across the board changes in all GST Laws - Central, state and Integrated – with which the government is expected to go to Parliament in the monsoon session in July. The government is expected to roll out the changes in GST on its first year anniversary so that the impact is felt in the polls in three big states of Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh
and Rajasthan touted as semi-finals ahead of the general elections in 2019.

Sources close to the development told DH that the government does not want to take any chance ahead of 2019 elections. “If the changes are brought now, they will slowly start impacting the businesses before the general elections are announced.”

Also, their impact will be reflected on the Assembly polls giving a boost to the government in the Lok Sabha elections”.

Small businesses across the country have been complaining about the complexities involved in the new indirect tax law.

Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, has tried to leverage their discontent wherever possible. Before the Gujarat Assembly polls, the BJP had tried to assuage the trading community by cutting tax rates on many goods including food items but it had a little impact.

The recently set up Law Advisory Committee of the GST has recommended dozens of changes in the GST Act.

The most significant ones that can ameliorate the pains of small traders are amendment in the input tax credit to release money to them within a month pending the matching and adjustments and, a little less cumbersome scrutiny of returns.

Sources said that the GST Council may accept both the suggestions and make amendments in the laws accordingly. Besides, a plethora of rules will be re-visited and made easy such as no GST on interest charged for late payment, no restrictions on refund of accumulated credit, premises of assessees cannot be visited casually by the officers without prior written permission of the Commissioner.

Not only traders but even the small and marginal farmers are complaining about transportation rules under GST eating away a lot of their earnings.

The Modi government will complete four years on May 26.

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