An employee uses a calculator at the Professional Foreign Currency Exchange Ltd. (PFCE) store in Hong Kong, China. (Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg)

GST Collection At Rs 1,06,577 Crore For February, Highest Since Tax Rollout

Goods and services tax collection for February rose to its highest since the nationwide levy was rolled out in July 2017.

The government’s collection rose about 9.5 percent month-on-month to Rs 1,06,577 crore for February, according to the Ministry of Finance. It jumped 15.6 percent from Rs 92,167 crore in the same month in 2018, it said. The mop-up crossed Rs 1 lakh crore the third time in 2018-19. The average monthly collection this fiscal now stands at Rs 97,628 crore.

With this, the average monthly collection in 2018-19 has gone up by 9 percent over 2017-18, Pratik Jain, partner and leader indirect tax, PwC India, said in an emailed statement. Given the year-end push, the collection for March is also likely to exceed Rs 1 lakh crore, he said. This indicates that GST collections are increasing steadily with compliances settling in, increased use of data and intelligence by the government including introduction of e-way bill system last year.

Yet, he said, the projected growth in GST collections for 2019-20 is around 20 percent over 2018-19. Achieving this steep target, according to Jain, would “call for substantial increase in tax base by plugging the existing leakages, as room for increase in tax rate seems limited”.

Compliance improved in March. The total number of GSTR-3B returns filed for the month of February by March 31 increased to 75.95 lakh from 73.4 lakh returns filed for January and 73.3 lakh returns filed for December.

The break-up of tax collected under the various heads was:

  • Central GST: Rs 20,353 crore
  • State GST: Rs 27,520 crore
  • Integrated GST: Rs 50,418 crore (including Rs 23,521 crore on imports)
  • Compensation Cess: Rs 8,286 crore (including Rs 891 crore on imports)

Integrated GST is settled between the states and the centre, based on the consumption in the respective state. Post settlement, CGST was Rs 47,614 crore and SGST stood at Rs 51,209 crore. Further, Rs 20,000 crore was settled from the balance IGST available with the central government on provisional basis in the 50:50 ratio between the centre and states.

While GST revenue in FY19 grew 9.2 percent every month on an average, it’s slower than the nominal GDP growth of 11.5 percent, he said. But on a quarterly basis, he said, the collections are settling.

GST growth in January-March (for collections in December-February) increased to 14.3 percent from 12.1 percent in the preceding three months. A higher GST revenue would reduce pressure on the central government emanating from compensation paid to the states for any revenue loss (14 percent annual growth).

For 2018-19, the government’s total GST collections have been Rs 10.74 lakh crore till February as against the revised full-year target of Rs 11.47 lakh crore.

The government has budgeted for 21.1 percent increase in central GST and 24.8 percent growth in combined GST (central GST, integrated GST and GST compensation cess) for FY20. Unless the pace of growth as observed in quarters ended December and March is sustained and accelerated, it would be difficult to achieve the target, DK Pant, chief economist at India Ratings and Research, said in a separate emailed statement.

Also read: No Consensus On Why Consumer Goods Demand Rose After GST