In a recent address, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the Finance Ministry's commitment to broadening the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime's reach, emphasizing the importance of including all businesses rather than merely focusing on revenue enhancement. Speaking at the launch of 12 GST Suvidha Kendras in Gujarat, the minister aimed to streamline GST registration processes and address concerns faced by businesses.
Sitharaman pointed out that the GST collection, under the 'one nation one tax' principle, has exhibited a consistent upward trajectory, attributing this success to reduced tax rates on numerous items. The minister underscored the elimination of the previous concern of double taxation, asserting that this has contributed significantly to the increasing GST revenue.
Despite the positive trends, Sitharaman acknowledged that a considerable number of businesses still operate outside the GST framework, remaining excluded from the formal economy. She questioned the rationale behind this choice, emphasizing that bringing businesses into the tax net is not solely about extracting revenue but is crucial for the overall strength of the economy.
"It's not just about collecting taxes; it's about the true strength of our economy. Formalization can only happen when everybody is onboard," stated Sitharaman. She argued that businesses staying outside the formal economy are not benefiting the country or themselves, emphasizing that being noticed and participating in the transparent tax regime is vital for growth and potential business opportunities.
The Finance Minister urged for a balanced focus on both tax collection and expanding the GST ambit. "Equal attention should be given to the collection of tax, but our focus should equally be on including more establishments and businesses. A transparent tax regiment benefits the entire country," she added.
Highlighting the significance of consumer participation in the tax system, Sitharaman announced the recognition of individuals who uploaded their paid GST bills on the government website. Five winners were awarded Rs 10 lakh each through a draw, underscoring the importance of every consumer receiving and contributing to the billing process.
In a notable achievement, the GST revenue collection for October 2023 reached Rs 1.72 lakh crore, marking the second-highest collection ever, following the record set in April 2023. This achievement reinforces the success of the 'one nation one tax' system and the positive impact of reduced tax rates.
As India continues its journey towards economic reform, Sitharaman's comprehensive approach to GST reflects the government's commitment to fostering an inclusive and transparent tax environment for sustainable growth.