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THE HINDU Editorial Vocabulary - August 8, 2018 - Topic 2

Pause, refresh: on the GST Council's focus on MSMEs
The Goods and Services Tax Council met last Saturday for the second time within a fortnight. However, this time it refrained from further rate rejigs. While the new indirect tax regime has expanded India’s tax base and brought more firms into the formal economy, revenues have slipped somewhat after peaking at Rs.1.03 lakh crore in April (for taxes accrued in March) this year. The first three months of this financial year have yielded Rs.94,016 crore, Rs.95,610 crore and Rs.96,483 crore, respectively — this is well short of the Rs.1.lakh crore revenue target a month for 2018-19. 

The steep rate cuts effected on several items in the last Council meeting were to kick in from July 27, so their full impact on revenue collections may take more time to unfold. Moody’s Investors Service reckons that the revenue loss from the most recent tax cuts may be 0.04-0.08% of GDP annually. This is marginal at best, and could be offset by stronger consumption-led growth and better tax compliance. But it is in this context of revenue concerns that the Council’s dedicated focus at its latest meeting on issues facing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a creditable move.
Setting up a ministerial group to look into the problems faced by MSMEs since India moved to the GST regime last July is a signal that the government is not brushing aside the implementation issues that still trouble smaller players. Firms with an annual turnover of less than Rs.5 crore constitute 93% of the registered taxpayers under the GST. At its previous meeting, the Council had decided that such businesses need no longer file cumbersome returns every month, but only on a quarterly basis. There may be more room for the ministerial panel to recommend further easing of compliance for micro firms with turnover far below Rs.5 crore and enhancing the Rs.50,000 threshold for mandatory use of e-way bills to track movement of taxable goods. A deeper dive to understand why 1.7 million taxpayers had registered under the GST by December 2017 although their operations were below the taxable limit could also yield some pointers. The Council meeting has also, wisely, returned to a consensual approach on decisions. While a few States had reservations about the rate cuts at the last meeting, this time their concerns on a proposal to push digital payments by offering a cash-back to consumers using RuPay cards or the UPI platform have been incorporated. Now, States will volunteer to run a pilot on these lines and a final decision will be taken after a detailed system-wide evaluation of such incentives. This indicates the Centre’s keenness to retain a cooperative approach with States that has generally marked the Council’s functioning.

Refrained: stop oneself from doing something.
Example: She refrained from comment
Synonyms: abstain from, desist from, hold back from, stop oneself from, forbear from

Regime: a system or planned way of doing things, especially one imposed from above.
Example: Detention centers with a very tough physical regime
Synonyms: system, arrangement, order, pattern, method, procedure, routine, course

Impact: the action of one object coming forcibly into contact with another.
Example: There was the sound of a third impact
Synonyms: collision, crash, smash, bump, bang, knock

Compliance: the action or fact of complying with a wish or command.
Example: They must secure each other's cooperation or compliance

Implementation: the process of putting a decision or plan into effect
Example: She was responsible for the implementation of the plan

Cumbersome: large or heavy and therefore difficult to carry or use; unwieldy.
Example: Cumbersome diving suits
Synonyms: unwieldy, unmanageable, awkward, clumsy, inconvenient

Approach: a way of dealing with something.
Example: We need a whole new approach to the job
Synonyms: method, procedure, technique, modus operandi

Consensual: relating to or involving consent, especially mutual consent.
Example: He admitted to having consensual sex with two women

Evaluation: the making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something
Example: The evaluation of each method
Synonyms: assessment, appraisal, judgment, gauging, rating, estimation

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