Q. Today Mr Goyal, we are going to be talking to you about GST. Now, the GST, the whole idea you know, why you having this big event, big function is that in 1947 political union हुआ था इंडिया का, अब होगा economic union, but what kind of economic union जिसमें half the opposition is boycotting, most of the people are not coming तो unity कहाँ हुई?
A. Where is half the opposition boycotting? Most of the Members of Parliament are going to be there. I would appeal to those who have not decided as yet to set any term, because it’s a decision that has been taken unanimously by all political parties. Even if they are not in government in a state, they have contributed to unanimous approval of constitutional amendment, the laws in different states. And, ultimately all these decisions are taken by the GST Council. So, we are sharing this joy with every political party. It’s unfortunate if somebody chooses not to enjoy the joy of being part of history in the making.
Q.You know, millions of people supported demonetization and even in Uttar Pradesh you got the verdict after the demonetization. But, that time also those who supported you were saying that preparedness was not there, it was missing in the government machinery. Again, we fear that there will be lack of preparedness and people will end up suffering?
A.There has been a transformational reform of this nature where there are so many unknowns, where there is 125 crore Indians as purchasers, where there are, I am told, 5 or 6 crore traders and business persons and manufacturers, of which only 85 lakh come under the tax net, many of the small ones and all are exempt for turnover up to 20 lakhs, many with turnover up to 75 lakhs will have to register, but a very simplified composition scheme has been made. I think it’s something like swimming. You ultimately have to jump into the water before you learn to swim. As much preparation you do standing on the shore, you can’t learn how to swim. So, it’s a thing we will have to get into a lot of preparation, after all, this has been in the making for 10 years, if 10 years के बाद भी हम यह चिंता करें | And the decisions are joint decisions, all parties in the GST Council have decided.
Q.No, that is not a good argument. Because, let me tell you, you are sitting here, babus are sitting here, those who made GST, members, they were all sitting in Delhi in a close room. But now, I will take you to Meerut, just give me one minute and I will tell you that we sent our Rahul Gautam, the correspondent to Meerut and this is day before yesterday. And he met Jasbir Singh who was the garment shop owner, now he says that he has no clue about GST. Then he met Gulshan Arora, he is again a shop owner, he says that he can’t comment on GST. Everybody is waiting for 1st July?
A.Maybe, some of them may be less than 20 lakhs, they may be so small they may not be coming under this. You see the campaigns in all television; see the campaigns on all newspapers. Frankly, Sheela ben, in a country of 85 lakh assessees or 6 crore traders and business persons, let’s do a fair analysis, go across not find one …. Let’s go to 5000 traders and businessmen and you will get adequate comfort that people are prepared it, they are welcoming it, they are happy. Certainly, there is a small section which may not be aware, इसलिए इतनी help desk, helplines, CAs, CS, Company Secretaries, institutions, tax officials across the country are holding workshops, help desks and help lines. I think it’s very easy to pick holes, like that I can pick a 100 holes in your channel’s reporting. Holes निकालना तो बड़ा easy है, विस्तार से देखना पड़ता है what is the big picture.
Q.It’s not about you and me. It’s about people. People are saying….
A.Well, you have found one or two examples, I will take you to 50,000 people against two who are delighted and happy and know everything.
Q.But, do you agree that GST is touching every single Indian?
A.Of course, that is why we are celebrating it. We are happy that the whole country has come together.
Q.But Mr Goyal, the unorganized sector which was earlier out of the tax ambit, you are now bringing it in. But a lot of people are also unhappy for the logistics of it, you have to be computer literate to file GST. Aren’t you going to have a total revolution?
A.May I correct you? It’s not about the unorganized sector, unorganized sector which is small in nature is still out of it, up to 20 lakh turnover you are still out, beyond 20 lakh turnover you don’t call it unorganized sector. What we are bringing in is the informal sector, people who cheated on taxes, who didn’t pay their taxes honestly. For them, there is certainly a difficulty in this new regime. Data is going to be captured at so many places that if you try to cheat on taxes somewhere you will get caught. And, I think your channel would be as much delighted as me that we are finally going to have hopefully a corruption-free regime, where black marketing doesn’t happen, people cannot evade taxes, competition is on quality of service, quality of goods. Not on ability to cheat on taxes.
And, as regards the fact that the nation’s comfort on this, I think most sectors of society are extremely happy that the multifarious taxes, cascading effect of taxes is gone, a very simplified format in which you only have to write the sales that you have done, everything else is automatic. You just write the sales that you have done and that’s it. So, instead of hundreds of papers and returns which you had to do earlier, I have run industry. Sales tax different papers, excise different, service tax different, entry tax in Navi Mumbai different, all that is gone. 17 taxes, 33 cesses, gone. One tax, which have to do only a sales register, everything else is automatic. And it’s not necessary to be computer literate, so, those who are not, all you need to do is there is an offline process. You enter your sales in that offline and on one day in the month go to a call centre in 3 minutes or 5 minutes, you can upload that sales data and your work is done.
Q.So, are you sure about corruption, because if any retailer is not transferring profit to consumer, anti-profiteering device is there?
A.So, you don’t want us to protect the consumers?
Q.No, I agree, but if they also take bribe, then?
A. Because the computer system being one, that is the one which will generate the trigger, individual will not know after all. It is the system which will generate whether correctly the input taxes are being passed on to the consumers or they are being …. with adding of a new GST without taking the credit into account. So, these are things which will evolve. Anti-profiteering is more a deterrent than something, which will be used for harassment. And I can assure you, the intention of all the states I believe is not to harass anybody. Largely, the assessees are going to be under the charge of state governments in which all political parties will be involved. So, I do hope they will also not harass……
Q.What do you want to tell small traders, you know, they have a industry, they are really worried?
A. I want to reassure all small traders, rest in peace. It’s a very simplified regime that is coming in. It’s very taxpayer friendly. It’s very user friendly. It’s very customer friendly. And it’s friendly to the honest, unfriendly to the dishonest. I appeal to all my brothers and sisters in trade and business, come into this system, adopt it with a open mind, adopt with an intention to be a good citizen of this country to contribute to the development of India. If somebody is evading taxes, remember that’s the money that you would have otherwise paid and it’s a small amount. Only on your value add you are paying a tax, will go to light some poor person’s home and give a child education, will go to give a poor person healthcare for his parents. When you are evading taxes, remember that in the back of your mind. I have full confidence that no Indian will ever cheat on taxes, because he knows that this tax is going to go to serve society, serve the poor of India.
Q.Is it realistic? You know the level of corruption.
A.100%! Well, when we asked for Give It UP, more than 1 crore people like you, like her gave up your LPG subsidized cylinder because you knew and you trusted the government to give a free connection to the poor of this country which we are doing. 2.15 crore connections given free of charge, another 3 crore more going to be given. So, people of India trust that their tax money will go to serve the poor of India, and I am sure all of us will work towards that.
Q.Is it a Narendra Modi’s tryst with destiny?
A.It’s the country’s tryst with destiny, because the GST Council comprises all parties in government in any state who have taken all the decisions. We are one out of 30. It’s a tryst with destiny with all parties who passed a constitutional amendment bill, who passed the legislative amendments in the country. So, it’s collective confidence of this nation, collective achievement of this nation. I think everybody should be a part of that celebration.
Q.There is the fear of common man which is that inflation होगा in the short term, it’s too soon after demonetization and for how long…?
A. Which is why the anti-profiteering resolution has been brought in, and, ultimately, in multifarious taxes, which were not being given a credit are now going to be subsumed in one. I think there is no reason to fear about inflation. But let it start, if we get any such signals, we will respond, the GST Council will respond to that appropriately. So, let’s start, otherwise, for fear of the unknown or fear of drowning if you never jump in the water, you will never learn how to swim.
June 29, 2017 Speaking at Release of Renewable Energy Integration Nation Study Report, New Delhi