GST Collection in March Indicates Slowdown

NEW DELHI: Tax on goods and services ( GST ) Collection in March fell 8.4% to Rs 97,597 crore, failing to cross the physiologically important level of Rs 1-lakhcrore after four months, indicating a slowdown in the economy.

Collections in March were for sales in February and, with the coronavirus lockdown in March, the numbers for the next month look grim. Unlike in previous months, when it was the GST on imported goods which were hobbling growth, the latest numbers point to domestic slowdown as well given that the levy on transactions within the country generated 4% lower revenue. GST on imported goods was down 23% as compared to March, 2019.

What also contributed to the decline was lower compliance with GST R-3B returns filed up to March 31, rising just 0.7% to 76.5 lakh. Month-on-month, the fall was more significant as 83.5 lakh returns were filed in February and 81.2 lakh in January.

Annual growth was less than 4%, well below original government expectations. The impact of the blockade will be reflected in the April 2020 figures, said Pratik Jain, partner and head of the indirect tax practice at consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers India. Rajat Bose, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, said part of the slowdown could also be due to economic problems.