As Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman began the presentation of the Union Budget 2020 in the Lok Sabha on Saturday, she paid homage to late BJP leader and India's former Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and called him 'chief architect of Goods and Services Tax.'
In her statement, the Finance Minister said, "I pay homage to visionary leader late Arun Jaitley, the chief architect of Goods and Services Tax. GST has been the most historic of the structural reforms. GST has been gradually maturing into a tax that has integrated the country economically."
Adding further to her statement, she also spoke about how India's tax-base has increased significantly, crediting GST and highlighting, "savings of about 4% in monthly expenses of an average family due to low GST rates, and more than 60 lakh taxpayers added in two years."
The Finance Minister's tribute to her predecessor comes amid GST collections crossing the Rs.1,00,000 crore mark for the third consecutive month. The figure for the month of January is Rs.1,10,828 crore, which is the second-highest GST collection since it was launched in July 2017. Moreover, there has been a 12% growth in domestic transactions. This indicates not just improved compliance and plugging of evasion but also a possible end to the slowdown in the Indian economy.
As per sources, the GST collection is in line with the target set by Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey in a high-level meeting with senior tax officials. Until Thursday, the number of GSTR 3B returns filed was 8.28 million. There was a special focus on the fraudulent input tax credit claims.
This year's Budget assumes tremendous significance as the Indian economy is facing multiple challenges such as a rise in inflation, unemployment, farmer distress and a dip in GDP growth. While beginning her Budget speech, the Finance Minister had said that the focus would be on increasing incomes and elevating purchasing power.
In the Economic Survey 2019-20 tabled on the floor of the Parliament on Friday, the GDP growth for the next fiscal year has been pegged at 6-6.5%. This is much more than the IMF estimate.