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Anti profiteering authority to be ready in a fortnight, says CBEC chief

Anti profiteering authority to be ready in a fortnight, says CBEC chief
The proposed anti-profiteering authority, which will monitor pricing behaviour of businesses under GST, will be up in a fortnight, says CBEC chief Vanaja N. Sarna Businesses will shortly have a new regulator taking a penetrating gaze over their affairs.
The proposed anti-profiteering authority that will monitor pricing behaviour of businesses will be up and running in a fortnight, said Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) chairperson Vanaja N. Sarna‎.
A selection panel led by Cabinet secretary P.K. Sinha has asked states to suggest candidates for the five-member authority, including the chairperson, while the Union government has sent a list of its nominees to states for state-level screening panels that are part of the authority’s ecosystem, said the CBEC chairperson. 
State-level panels will watch out for instances of businesses not passing on benefits of tax reduction to consumers in the goods and services tax (GST) regime.
During the two-year transition into the GST regime that started in July, the National Anti-profiteering Authority will step in and ask businesses that have not passed on full benefits of a reduced tax burden to consumers to make up for it with interest.
In rare cases, a profiteering business could lose its GST registration too.
“We are expecting nominations (to the Authority) from states in another two weeks. As soon as all these names come in, the Authority will be ready,” said Sarna.
The Authority will be assisted by a four-member standing committee with two state officials. For this, the Union government prefers tax officials from states which are closer to the capital such as Haryana, to be able to hold quick meetings. 
GST’s impact on prices is top on the minds of Union and state policy makers keen to demonstrate that the indirect tax reform benefits the ultimate consumer. That involves not just ensuring that benefits are passed on to consumers, but also convincing them that the higher tax rates they may see on invoices in many cases in the transparent GST regime do not mean that tax burden has gone up. Consumers were not aware of the real burden of embedded taxes on products and services in the earlier regime. 
“Your invoice today specifies central GST, state GST and the cess where applicable. In the earlier regime, consumers could only see the standard rate of value added tax (VAT) of 14.5%, not the central excise duty levied at factory gates of 12.5%, which together led to an actual 27% tax burden. Today the same commodity may be at 18% GST. In the case of cosmetics taxed at 28% GST rate, the increase is only of one percentage point,” explained the CBEC chairperson. 
Industry associations, NGOs and small traders have been making representations to the GST Council for rate revisions on items like sanitary napkins, mixtures (of nuts and other edible items) and some tractor parts. At its 5 August meeting, the GST Council led by finance minister Arun Jaitley brought down tax rates on work outsourced by the labour intensive textile sector and on tractor parts. However, as the new tax system settles down, more rate revisions are unlikely except in cases where there is an unintentional impact on tax burden such as on tobacco.
Sarna said that rolling out GST is also likely to stimulate the direct tax receipts of the government. “Many more assessees are coming into the GST fold, including from the unorganized sector. Earlier, the central excise duty exemption limit was Rs1.5 crore, while the exemption limit for GST is Rs20 lakh annual sales. Also, those who want to claim input tax credit will take GST registration. New GST registrations will favourably impact direct taxes as well,” said she. 
On 4 August, Jaitley said that 7.2 million of the 8 million registered indirect tax assesses under the old regime have registered for GST, in addition to 1.3 million new dealers who have sought GST registration.
The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 23th August 2017


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