The COVID-19 outbreak and nationwide lockdown are severely denting the revenue collections of states pushing them to look at possible revenue-earning measures including the phased opening of liquor vends and pan and gutka shops in the first phase of relaxations for restarting economic activity post lockdown.
Sources in the state government departments said that GST collections, one of the prime sources of revenue for the states, is seriously compromised in the month of April with several state governments reporting serious fall in collections that are as high as 80-90 per cent some cases.
Concerned about the steep fall, the Centre is yet to declare the GST collection numbers for April through monthly GST collection numbers for a particular month is announced on the first day of the next month. The delay, officials say, is because the government deferred allowed delayed filing of GSTR 3B returns for 15 days from the due date of April 20 to ease the compliance burden on taxpayers during the lockdown.
The worst-hit seems to state such as Delhi, West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh that are reporting fall in April GST collections to the tune of 90 per cent. In case if Delhi, officials have indicated that they have collected just Rs 300 in April against a normal monthly collection of Rs 3,000 crore. Similarly, Assam seems to have collected just about Rs 200 crore as GST in April against close to Rs 1,000 crore at this point of the year.
West Bengal is also facing serious fall in tax collections as lockdown has completely stopped service sector activity while manufacturing also remains s suspended. GST collections have been badly hit in hilly states that depend largely on tourism and hospitality for revenue.
“We anticipate that April GST collections may fall to a third of average monthly collections of just over Rs 1 lakh crore. The collection data could see some improvement in later dates as tax return filing dates have been extended for April,” said a tax expert a not willing to be named.
Due to concerns on GST, several states are looking at resuming economic activity under the permissions given by the Home Ministry on relaxations during a lockdown. In this regard, the opening of liquor shops and increasing sales of petrol and diesel through increased transportation activities is being looked by states. Taxes on fuel and liquor alone provides close to 40-50 per cent of state revenue. So the start of these activities would provide some relief.
Services account for almost 60-70 per cent of GDP while manufacturing about 25 per cent. Both the activities have been seriously hit in the lockdown pushing analyst to project India GDP growth at just 1-2 per cent in FY21.