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Covid-19 consequences: GST kitty dips, but shows recovery signs

Goods and Services Tax (GST) collections in July declined 3.8% to Rs 87,422 crore from the previous month and dropped 14.3% year-on-year as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic took its toll on the economy, according to figures released by the finance ministry on Saturday.

In June, GST collections amounted to Rs 90,917 crore, In July 2019, revenue collections wereRs 1,02,082 crore.

Conceding that July collections were lower than June’s, the finance ministry pointed out in a statement “…it is important to note that during the previous month, a large number of taxpayers also paid taxes pertaining to February, March and April 2020 on account of the relief provided due to Covid-19.” That means July’s actual collections are almost certain to have been higher than June’s — pointing to a revival in business activity which is still well below pre-pandemic levels.

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Taxpayers with a turnover of less than Rs 5 core still enjoy a respite in filing of their returns until September 2020, the ministry added.

GST collections have been badly hit in the current financial year because of a 68-day nationwide lockdown enforced since March 25 to check the spread of Covid-19. Collections in April plunged 72% to Rs 32,172 crore compared to the same month last year. The year-on-year decline in May was 38% to Rs 62,151 crore. The year-on-year fall in June this year narrowed to 9%.

Experts said the trend in GST collections, a bellwether of economic health, was positive. “June and July data reveal that broadly the collections are stabilising between 85-90% of the corresponding period last year. This is alsocorroborated by the number of E-Way bills being generated on a daily basis, which indicates that supply chain is getting back to normal.”

E-Way bills, or Electronic Way bills, are required for movement of goods by GST-registered entities.

Gross GST revenue collected in July was Rs 87,422 crore, of which central GST (CGST) was Rs 16,147 crore, state GST (SGST) was Rs 21,418 crore and integrated GST (IGST) Rs 42,592 crore. The cess collection in the month was Rs 7,265 crore, the finance ministry statement said.

“The government has settled Rs 23,320 crore to CGST and Rs 18,838 crore to SGST from IGST as regular settlement. The total revenue earned by Central Government and the State Governments after regular settlement in the month of July,2020 is Rs 39,467 crore for CGST and Rs 40,256 crore for the SGST,” it added.

Jain said: “This augurs well for the government and collections are likely to improve further as lockdown is eased progressively. Industry can perhaps hope for some more GST relief, particularly in form of liquidity support as they navigate through the slowdown.”

MS Mani, partner at consulting firm Deloitte India, said:“While the overall GST collections for the month are heartening , the collections in many of the major states coming close to last year’s collections indicates that the recovery process has slowly started with the unlockdown process underway in these states.”

“The progressive unlockdown steps taken by various states in June are reflected in the improvement in GST collections for July although the figures also include some transactions in respect of earlier months,” Mani added.

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