Curious case of Kolkata’s GST registration surge

Shobha Roy Kolkata August 21 | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on August 21, 2017


West Bengal accounts for 10% of the new registrations

The GST regime was widely expected to widen the tax base of the country. But it was unexpected that Kolkata and West Bengal will be front runners in GSTN registrations, because as per official records the State is a laggard when it comes to business.

On July 7, the GST authorities opened the window for registration of entities which were not registered under VAT, excise and service tax.

As on Monday, Kolkata tops the list with 79,954 new registrations. This is 9 per cent of the 8.57 lakh new registrations from 21 major cities.

Lucknow stands second with 69,804 new registrations followed by Chennai (68,243), Mumbai (62,675), and Vadodara (61,472). Delhi, a key trading centre, reported 45,715 new registrations.

Overall, West Bengal reported 1.5 lakh new registrations which is 10 per cent of the national total of 15 lakh registrations till August 21.

What is baffling is West Bengal accounted for barely four per cent of the 67 lakh entities that were earlier registered with State VAT, service tax and excise authorities and had migrated to GST regime.

As in FY12, the VAT collection from West Bengal was a little over ₹10,000 crore, comapred to Delhi’s ₹12,254 crore, one-third of the mop-up by Tamil Nadu and UP and afifth of Maharashtra’s. The Central excise collection from Kolkata zone (which includes port city of Haldia) was barely comparable to Vizag’s.

Were many businesses flying under the radar?

Bijay Kumar, Chief Commissioner of GST, Central Excise and Customs, Kolkata Zone, admits to the inconsistency. However, he says that the department had taken extra effort to sensitise business in the State.

‘Success of outreach’

“We organised nearly 400 outreach programmes in the last three-to-four months. That has yielded results,” Kumar had said at a GST Conclave organised by BusinessLine here on Saturday.

According to a senior State GST official, the VAT regime excluded pharmaceuticals dealers and job work units in textiles, leather and jewellery industries. He says inclusion of these categories is one reason for the GST registration surge.

But the explanation is not convincing. West Bengal was no great exception in VAT regime. Also, business in West Bengal should not be an exception in trying to fly under the radar.

“The GSTN registration numbers from West Bengal came as a surprise. We will know the nature of these firms and the reasons behind only when they will start filing returns.”

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Published on August 21, 2017
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