Representations on matters related to the goods and services tax (GST) will be considered “with an open mind”, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday, adding that the Centre’s objective was to implement a “GST that serves the larger interests of the people”. He was interacting with industry bodies here on Sunday.

Reducing human interface

However, industries seeking exemption from GST must consider their obligations to society. “Do they not use infrastructure like roads? Do they not need the police for law and order and an efficient defence service?” he asked, addressing a meeting on GST.

Earlier in the day, Jaitley met industry associations including the CII, FICCI and SICCI. Over the last couple of years, the government had worked on increasing tax compliance, encouraging a business-friendly environment, bringing down discretionary powers of those in authority and reducing interface between tax payers and the system.

‘Honest needn’t worry’

Interface leads to corruption and compliance burden which makes people stay outside the purview of taxes, he said.

Nearly 99 per cent of personal income-tax orders are received online. “I want that in indirect taxes,” the Minister emphasised.

The Centre had ensured that “an honest man can carry on business without concern”. It is only those concerned about their volume of trade coming out into the open, resulting in income tax implications, that are worried about GST, he asserted.

Jaitley said those in responsible positions are aware that if a change is in the larger interest of the people then “they should not blink or go into reconsider mode”.

Adequate representation has been given in the GST Council for State governments to express their views. A smooth switch over to GST was achieved in country with a 125 crore population and 80 lakh registered dealers under various indirect taxes. “There is horizontal expansion and greater compliance,” he pointed out.

Revisit 28% tax: TN

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister D Jayakumar urged the Centre to reconsider the high rate of 28 per cent GST levied on labour-intensive industries such as fireworks, handloom and power loom weavers.

He urged the Centre to expedite clearances to the second phase of the Chennai Metro Rail, the desalination project and the Chennai peripheral ring road project. Over ₹17,000-crore worth of grants relating to various social projects are pending with the Centre and need to be cleared fast. Jayakumar said he had submitted a memorandum spelling out the details.