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Cabinet to consider proposal on appointing head for anti-profiteering body

Dilasha Seth & Indivjal Dhasmana / New Delhi 06 Oct 17 | 02:16 AM

Illustration: Ajay Mohanty

A proposal to create a chairman for the proposed anti-profiteering authority (APA) under the goods and services tax (GST) system is likely to go to the Union Cabinet.

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Also, it will take at least a month to implement the e-way bill, aimed at tracking movement of goods under the GST system.

The APA is meant to ensure companies above a specified threshold pass on their GST benefit in cost to the consumer. It is proposed to be chaired by someone of the rank of secretary to the government, sources said.

At present, a four-member 'standing committee' of central and state tax officials has been set up to handle complaints of undue profiteering by any entity under the GST regime. Another five-member committee headed by Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) head Vanaja Sarna and chief secretaries from two states, would finalise the APA's chairman and members. The body is meant to have only a two-year life.

The standing committee refers cases that it deems fit for investigation to the Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) in the department of revenue. It has two officers from CBEC and one each from the Delhi and Haryana tax departments.

The CBEC officers are Himanshu Gupta, principal commissioner, GST Delhi and O P Dadhich, principal commissioner, customs (preventive) Delhi. The other two members are H Rajesh Prasad, commissioner (sales tax) in the Delhi government, and Ashima Brar, excise and taxation commissioner, Haryana.

Since GST subsumed over a dozen earlier central and state levies, such as excise duty, service tax and value-added tax, the APA mechanism was proposed to ensure that the benefit of lower taxation in GST could be passed on to consumers.

The procedure for approaching the committee will be announced soon, officials said.

Archit Gupta, head of online tax filing portal ClearTax, said: "As the government prepares to set up the anti-profiteering committee, we hope there is a plan in place for the setting up of an Advance Ruling Authority as well. The committee, as it has been laid down, must work in favour of the ultimate consumer and not cause panic."

It was earlier decided that profiteering complaints of a local nature would be first sent to a state-level 'screening committee'. Those at a national level would go to the 'standing committee'. If the complaints have merit, they would refer these for further investigation to the DGS, which would, in turn, take around three months to complete probe and send the report to the proposed APA.

Adhia had earlier said that the authority would be in place by the time the DGS investigation on complaints was done.

The APA would be authorised to cancel the registration of any entity or business if it failed to pass on the GST benefits to consumers. However, that would probably be the final step against a violator. The APA may also suggest a return of the undue profit earned from not passing on a reduction in the incidence of tax to consumers, along with an 18 per cent interest. A penalty may also be imposed on defaulters in this regard.

E-Bill

Sources said the process of putting the necessary computer software and other mechanisms in place for the e-way bill would take at least a month.

Gupta said, "As things are still settling down and taxpayers are preparing to file the first set of GSTR-1,2,3 returns, it is wise to push this change out further."

The e-way bill has already been notified. The notification has exempted certain items of mass consumptions from its ambit, such as vegetables, fruit, foodgrain, meat, bread, curd, books and jewellery. An e-way bill is required even if goods are transferred from one vehicle to the other. For multiple consignments, transporters need to generate a consolidated e-way bill.

Depending on the distance covered or needed to transport the goods, the e-way bill number will be valid for 1-15 days. One day validity is for distances up to 100 km, while the 15-day window is for deliveries that cover more than 1,000 kms.

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