Kerala Budget may try to plug GST evasion: Thomas Isaac

Isaac says Kerala Budget to have provisions to plug GST evasion
Thomas Isaac

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala government which has been awaiting the settlement of Goods and Services Tax (GST) dues owed by the centre may try on its own to curb traders from evading it. The state may put up surveillance cameras at all check-posts in three months as part of its move to rake in the tax as much as possible. Similar measures to plug GST evasion could be announced in the Kerala Budget, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told Manorama News. 

Measures are being taken to prevent tax evasion and recover dues, Isaac further said. 

"Once the annual returns are filed, checks would be made to find out the tax evaders. As soon as the Budget is over, talks will be held with the district collectors to recover the dues. E-way bills will be checked to find out GST fraud. A conciliatory approach will be adopted to collect tax dues,” the minister added.

The Kerala Budget will be presented on February 7. The Budget Session of the Legislative Assembly had commenced last week.  

Financial crisis grappling the state is a major worry for the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala 

GST collection

The revised GST targets for Kerala are Rs 1.15 lakh crore for February and Rs 1.25 lakh crore for March. 

The estimated collection in the state for December is Rs 1.1 lakh crore and for January it is Rs 1.15 lakh crore. However, the realised GST collection for December was all of Rs 1.03 lakh crore. 

GST collections in Kerala which had been unstable for months had crossed the one-lakh-crore mark consecutively in December 2019. 

The gross GST revenue collected nationally in January 2020 is ₹1,10,828 crore. This is the third month in a row  collection has crossed the ₹1 trillion-mark. 

As reported earlier, Kerala has to receive Rs 1,600 crore as GST compensation for December alone. However, the centre had conveyed that it can give only Rs 4,524 crore of the Rs 6,866-crore tax share due to the state for three months as per the Finance Commission's recommendations.

When GST was rolled out on July 1, 2017, a legislation promised that states would be compensated for the loss of revenue as the new tax regime subsumed state taxes such as VAT.

Austerity drive

About 5,000-odd government employees, including those in the Secretariat, would be redeployed as part of the austerity drive of the state, Isaac said.

The process of taking the count of employees who could be redeployed is in its final stage. Even engineers, who continue to be part of completed projects at the Water Resources Department, would be posted elsewhere, he revealed.

Other likely Budget proposals

The Budget is also likely to include measures to protect the environment and on cleanliness drive. Steps such as planting one crore of fruit-bearing tress in a year could be announced.  

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