The Budget proposals on indirect taxes have dealt with customs because GST matters are now dealt with by the GST council. However, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has done well in summing up certain critical decisions of the council on GST. These include introduction of simplified single monthly return, electronic invoice system that will capture the invoice details to be used for invoice matching, and detection of tax evasion.
Her proposal to have a legacy dispute resolution-cum-amnesty scheme to take care of Rs 3.75 lakh crore blocked in litigation in pre-GST excise and service tax is laudable. These steps show the government’s determination to have a taxpayer-friendly GST regime that will not hesitate to penalise defaulters and fraudsters. On customs duty, the guiding factors were national security concerns, promotion of “Make in India”, reduction in import dependence and protection of MSME sector. To garner more revenue, she has also proposed special additional excise duty and road and infrastructure cess on petrol and diesel. Besides, she has also proposed to impose a basic excise duty on tobacco products and crude. The Budget also proposes a few amendments to the Customs Act to counter fraudulent attempts. Overall, the Budget proposals on indirect taxes are healthy, implementable and essential.