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India’s new GST tipped to appear next April

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley. Pic: World Economic Forum/Flickr
Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley. Pic: World Economic Forum/Flickr

Related tags: Tax

The long-awaited tax reform which will see the introduction of GST will be implemented from April 1, 2016, the official leading the preparations has announced.

KM Mani, chairman of India’s GST reform task force told an Assocham audience that the constitutional amendment required to bring in the tax is expected to be passed during the winter session of parliament.

There has been much scepticism among Indians towards the implementation of the tax, a replacement of a complex assortment of indirect taxes. This hails from the government’s inability to pass the necessary legislation in the last session of parliament.

There have been accusations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s heart is not in the tax reform, with opposition lawmakers claiming he was part of a movement that has held up its implementation over the last four years.

However, proponents and industry groups tip GST as a fair tax and one of the best ways to promote economic growth.

"GST will be a very efficient system of tax collection as there will be no scope for tax evasion​," said Mani, adding that the tax base would be widened to bring higher collections for both the federal government and individual states.

The tax will promote the ease of doing business and would boost the GDP by about 2%​,” said Mani. 

"GST is necessary for India's economic development. Consumers are paying about 29% both visible and invisible tax, hopefully GST will be on a lower side​."

The rate of service tax will go up from the existing 16%, though the exact percentage could be known only after the declaration is made, Mani said.

Modi had earlier said he was hopeful that the tax would be rolled out some time next year. Finance minister Arun Jaitley has since called its implementation a “top priority”.

SL enlists cross-section of ministries in effort to curb youth NCDs

Sri Lankan will implement a wider-reaching involving a spectrum of government departments to lower the rate of non-communicable diseases in school-age children, which has reached epidemic levels.

The country’s health ministry, which is behind the strategy to involve other departments, has already been promoting physical exercise and better nutritional education, though this has not yet fully been implemented. 

With up to one-third of schoolchildren now obese or overweight, and one in 10 at a stage of pre-diabetes, the health ministry has decided that tougher action is necessary. Thilak Siriwardhana, director of the ministry’s non-communicable diseases unit, is in the process of developing a joint-strategy with the sports, education, agriculture and youth ministries, among others, an initiative which the department will lead.

The strategy will form part of a wider action plan that seeks to change the government’s focus from non-communicable diseases to preventing them. The plan is in the process of being finalised. 

As part of the strategy, the sports ministry will train over 2,000 PE teachers from the education ministry on non-communicable disease prevention measures next year. It will also launch a project to build open gyms across the country.

"They are planning to complete this project within the next year itself. The ministry will also work with local authorities to set up walkways to encourage the public to engage in physical activity​," said Dr Siriwardhena.

Elsewhere, the agriculture ministry will devise a plan to influence farming to increase vegetable and fruit consumption among Sri Lankans.

The health ministry also intends to focus on improving health by reducing alcohol and tobacco use, which are currently high in the country.

Overall, three-quarters of deaths in Sri Lanka are currently due to cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases. The probability of dying from one of these between the ages of 30 and 70 stands at 18%, according to health authority figures.

Industrial compliance slowly improving in Bangladesh

The third-quarter of this year has seen various government and NGO efforts to improve compliance in Bangladesh. 

According to data by AsiaInspection, a quality control and compliance service provider, there has been a modest 2.8% increase in ethical scores (from 6.51 to 6.7 out of 10) in the country over the past 12 months, while inspections grew by 68%. 

However, so far in 2015, 41.6% of factories audited across the country covering all industries showed major non-compliance, and 25.9% were at serious ethical risk.

Bangladeshi state authorities say the country now meets the criteria to be reinstated into the Generalised System of Preferences trade program, a preferential tariff system which provides for a formal system of exemption from the more general rules of the World Trade Organisation, having lost its membership in 2013.

Related topics: Policy, Supply chain, South Asia

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