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A Deloitte Partner explains how GST impacted manufacturers, service providers differently

A Deloitte Partner explains how GST impacted manufacturers, service providers differently

MS Mani, Partner, Deloitte India does a comparison of pre- and post-GST times. Here are edited excerpts from his interview to ET Now’s Tamanna Inamdar:

Are we better off with GST than without? And is it as simple a tax as it was meant to be?
Let me look at it only from a business perspective. I will put it in two buckets — what does it mean for manufacturers, and what does it mean for service providers. The reason I am doing this is because GST has dealt with manufacturers and service providers differently.

Manufacturers in the pre-GST era had to grapple with a battery of taxes — the central excise duty, and different state VATs that used to change every year. A manufacturer who supplied goods all across the country had to deal with 29 state tax rates to determine the costing and pricing. Then again, it was not just one tax in some of the states — there was a surcharge, there was an additional tax and there were yet other taxes which were embedded to that. So, for manufacturers, GST has been excellent. There is now no need to worry about differential costs except in case of logistics.

Now take service providers. Before GST, they were covered only by one central tax called service tax, which mandated that a service provider take one registration for his business for the whole country, pay one amount of tax, file one return. The return had to be filed every six months. Now, after GST, service providers need to obtain a registration in every state they operate. Most of these companies operate in all the states, so there are 31 registrations. Return filing is monthly, so there are 31X12 returns which need to be filed. So, for them, it has become a little more complex than what it was before.

When you combine the two, I guess the picture becomes better than the pre-GST era.

What of smaller businesses, especially in view of GST’s well-documented compliance troubles?
For SMEs and MSMEs, it has been a fairly difficult journey to navigate. It has been difficult because of two reasons. The purpose of GST was to broaden the tax base; now, if we have to broaden the tax base we have to get more and more people into the net.

That is why over a period of time we have a rate of tax that is fair to everyone, because we have had to cover for a lot of SMEs and MSME that haven’t fallen into the tax net.

Now, the complexity for them arises from the fact that the entire compliance process in GST is a digitised process. There are no manual processes. When you have a digitised process, it is very convenient to certain sets of people and very inconvenient for certain other sets. It’s the latter category that’s finding compliance difficult.

Some underplay the impact of cess on certain categories and businesses. Your take?
The number of products to which the cess applies are down, and the collections from cess are up. Cess is now applied only on sin products — pan masala, aerated beverages, and a lot of automobile products and the like.

In the pre-GST regime, each state used to tax a whole host of products under cesses, surcharges and additional taxes. When you compare with that, we at least now have a fewer number of products which attract cess.

Now, the collections from cess are more because of the manner in which the whole thing has been designed. Bear in the mind that the compensation for states was to come from cess. If collections are lower, there would be a problem compensating states.

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