Collections in March were for sales in February and, with the coronavirus lockdown in March, the numbers for the next month look grim. Unlike in previous months, when it was the GST on imported goods which were hobbling growth, the latest numbers point to domestic slowdown as well given that the levy on transactions within the country generated 4% lower revenue. GST on imported goods was down 23% as compared to March, 2019.
What also contributed to the decline was lower compliance with GSTR-3B returns filed up to March 31, rising just 0.7% to 76.5 lakh. Month-on-month, the fall was more significant as 83.5 lakh returns were filed in February and 81.2 lakh in January.
The full-year growth was less than 4%, much below government’s original expectations. “The impact of lockdown will be reflected in April 2020 numbers,” said Pratik Jain, partner and head of the indirect tax practice at consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers India. Rajat Bose, a partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas said a part of the slowdown could also be due to economic problems.