Tarun Bajaj holds two key positions – economic affairs and revenue – at a time when the economy is recovering from Covid’s panic. In an interview, the chief financial officer told the TOI that the revenue collection had been surprisingly low, and that the government had forced spending two months ago.
Will you see updated 2020-21 tax collection rates?
Statistics are still coming in. The data for February and March has been a wonderful surprise for us. The numbers are definitely more than we expected during the revised rating. I was impressed by the strength of the corporate sector that the corporate tax reduction would be very small. Direct tax collection will decrease by about 2-3% compared to last year (2019-20). It will be more than updated figures. We also run a refund this year, exceeding Rs 2.5 lakh crore. We wanted to cancel over 90% of the refund, if not canceled, it could be due to the bank holidays. For indirect taxes, we have created a record in the GST collection.
What do you think about this sturdy collection?
The first is recovery. We did not expect recovery to occur at this stage. Assuming the first quarter is lost, we assume they will not be able to recover the missing reasons in the remaining nine months. I appreciate the resilience of the corporate sector. They were able to tighten their belts, earn good money.
You also seem to have pushed expenditure. Will you end the year higher than the revised figures?
We have decided to focus on spending more money. We spend more money on provinces. We have disbursed another Rupees.
How does the increase in Covid cases affect the vision for the next quarter?
There is experience in the country to handle the epidemic and that the provinces will not lock up much. We are now trying to push the vaccine – two drugs have run out, and five other candidates are in contention. So, unlike last year, this time we have better health infrastructure and we have vaccination goals. It can have some effect on people, depending on the people who go to restaurants, etc., but in general, we should be able to pass this on.
What will be the strategy for the new financial year?
It will be a two-pronged strategy. We will make it easier for a reliable taxpayer. At GST, we have about a dozen items listed. This will benefit small taxpayers and loyal taxpayers. The second side is that we get a lot of information about technology. So, if we catch the unfaithful person A, we know why we catch him. We have evidence-based information and have a targeted approach without excessive access. The program developed by Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, we reap its benefits. We have arrested about 400 people so far, including 12 employed accountants. We also link indirect and explicit taxes (data sharing).
There are suggestions that fuel should be delivered under the GST.