15th Finance Commission to meet advisory council on GST mop-up
Amid muted growth in GST collections threatening to strain the government's fiscal maths, the 15th Finance Commission will meet here on Friday with its advisory council consisting of leading economists, including Chief Economic Advisor K. Subramanian.
Official sources said that the main item on the meeting agenda is the projection of GST revenues in the coming years and plotting the way forward for centrally-sponsored schemes.
The Advisory Council includes noted economists such as Arvind Virmani, Surjit Bhalla, M. Govinda Rao, Omkar Goswami and Pinaki Chakraborty.
The meeting of the Finance Commission with the panel of 12 economists is being held days ahead of the Commission Chairman N.K. Singh discussing the indirect tax collection trends with the all-powerful GST Council on September 20 in Goa.
"Given the GST collection trend so far many states have urged the Finance Commission to extend the period for GST compensation beyond the initial five years. Further, the economic outlook is not looking very bright. The Finance Commission Chairman would meet the GST Council in this context," an official said here.
The gross GST collection in August 2019 grew 4.51 per cent year-on-year to Rs 98,202 crore but continued to remain below Rs 1 lakh crore mark reflecting the economic slowdown realities on the ground.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had, in July, significantly lowered her projections for GST collections in the Budget for 2019-20, against the Interim Budget presented in February. Accordingly, the Centre expects collections this year to be around Rs 6.63 lakh crore, down 13 per cent against the earlier estimate of Rs 7.6 lakh crore.
The government's worries have, however, grown over the last few months with the GDP growth in the April-June quarter slowing to a six-year low of 5 per cent. Negative sales in the automobile sector and slowing volume of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) items have sounded alarm bells for the government.