In order to leverage the database of lakhs of businesses created under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to estimate the number of jobs in the country, a task-force headed by Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya is likely to recommend using the data as a sample frame to conduct an annual enterprise survey, a senior government official told The Indian Express.
Due to lack of reliable and timely data on employment, the Prime Minister’s Office had set up the task-force in May, to suggest solutions for gathering reliable information about the scenario of jobs in the country, which can be implemented in a time-bound manner. Last month, Panagariya had pointed out that were some “serious problems” with the quarterly employment survey, published by the labour bureau. The total labour force, including that in agriculture, is, by even conservative estimates, around 47 crore, he had said, adding that the survey looked at only 3 crore, and until December 2015, covered only 11 states.
Apart from Panagariya, the task-force consisted of labour secretary M Sathiyavathy, chief statistician TCA Ananth, Pulak Ghosh of Niti Aayog, and Manish Sabharwal of TeamLease Services. The official said that in a recent presentation made by the task force to the PMO, it was suggested that an expert group be appointed to chalk out the exact design of the survey, considering the GST database would include a number of enterprises of different sizes across sectors with turnover of over Rs 20 lakh. The task-force, while highlighting that the Economic Census has limited capabilities for estimation of jobs given its low and irregular frequency, also suggested that the need for the census remained considering the GST database would not capture the enterprises with turnover less than Rs 20 lakh.
So far, out of 84 lakh VAT, excise and service tax assessees, around 67 lakh entities have enrolled themselves on GST Network’s portal. Apart from these, according to finance ministry data as on Sunday, about 2.23 lakh businesses, which were not registered under the old indirect tax regime, have enrolled under the new system. However, the task force pointed out that the Economic Census needs to be conducted every three years. It is further likely to include, in its report, the suggestion of having an annual survey of enterprises such as health and education, which are excluded from GST.
According to the government official, even as the exact contours of the GST based survey have not been detailed, the group, in its presentation to the PMO, also suggested making the GST Identification Number the universal number for enterprises, by embedding the permanent account number with the GSTIN. The official added that the task force is expected to suggest a 12-month time-frame to have a universal identification number for enterprises.