The Prime Minister's Office has called a meeting of top officials of commerce and finance ministries tomorrow to discuss the issue of GST refunds as exporters claimed that their 70 per cent of refunds are still stuck even after eight months of roll out of the new tax regime. The meeting would also assess the impact of delay in refund process on exports and manufacturing, sources said. The issue of refunds to exporters has been hanging fire for over five months now, with exporters complaining that delay in GST refunds has blocked their working capital. The revenue department, on the other hand, has argued that there are discrepancies in forms submitted by exporters with the customs department and those with the GST Network (GSTN). The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has sanctioned Rs 4,000 crore worth refunds to exporters in four months since October.
Still, claims of about Rs 10,000 crore are stuck due to discrepancies in the information furnished by exporters to GST Network (GSTN) through forms like GSTR 1 or Table 6A or GSTR 3B, and the shipping bills filed with the Customs. According to sources, the meeting would be attended by Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Commerce Secretary Rita Teaotia, CBEC Chairperson Vanaja Sarna and top officials from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). The DGFT, under the Commerce Ministry, is slated to make a presentation before the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister on the pending refunds to exporters. The GST Council in October last year had said that an e-wallet mechanism for refunds to exporters would be developed and had entrusted the DGFT to prepare required norms for the implementation from April, 2018. Under the e-wallet mechanism, a notional credit would be transferred to the exporters account based on their past record and the credit can be used to pay taxes on input. The GST Council in its meeting on Saturday decided to defer implementation of the e-wallet scheme for refunds to exporters till October 1. To ease exporter woes, the Council had also allowed exporters to continue to claim tax exemptions for an extra 6 months till October 1, 2018. Accordingly, merchant exporters can pay a tax at the rate of 0.1 per cent on goods procured for export purposes and obtain a refund for the same. Also, domestic procurement made under Advance Authorisation, EPCG and EOU schemes are being recognised as 'deemed exports' with flexibility for either the suppliers or the exporters being able to claim a refund of GST/IGST paid thereon. Exports during April-January 2017-18 grew by 11.75 per cent to USD 247.89 billion as against USD 221.82 billion in the year-ago period.
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