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Bikky Khosla | 25 Jun, 2019

The 35th GST Council meet, held in New Delhi last week under the chairmanship of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proved a mixed bag. It did not deliver any big surprises, but introduced some minor changes only to the existing structure and procedures under the GST. These measures are no doubt positive, but compared to a widespread expectation that the council would consider a significant cut in tax rates across the board, they failed to cheer economy watchers.

First, the Council simplified the process of GST registration. Now, a person can register himself on the GSTN portal by applying online just using his Aadhar Card number. Second, the Council extended the date for the filing of annual GST returns for 2017-18 fiscal by two months till August 30, 2019. Third, the Council approved the rollout of a single-return filing system for all by January 1, 2020. These decisions are welcome.

In the earlier system, one required to submit various documents in physical and scan form. Now the Aadhar based registration will help do away with this cumbersome process. Also, there was a demand from several quarters of the industry for extension of the due date for annual GST returns and it is good to see that the Council paid heed to this demand. And, the decision for single-return filing system would ease compliance.

Another notable decision taken by the council was the extension of the tenure of the National Anti-Profiteering Authority by two years. It also decided to increase the quantum of penalty that could be imposed by the authority on profiteering companies. This move seeks to ensure passing on of the benefit of tax cuts to consumers, but many feel the move is against the free market spirit. The authority must ensure that non-defaulters never suffer. Otherwise, it will send a "wrong signal" to the industry.

I invite your opinions.

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