Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday urged the tax department to not adopt an overzealous approach and focus on being more taxpayer-friendly, while at the same time appealed to the business community to do business “ethically”.
Addressing officers of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) on International Customs Day, Goyal said revenues which are rightfully due to the government need to be collected, but the tax department needs to work towards creating a more business-friendly approach and make compliance easier, as has been done by the government over the last few years.
“Very often in the over-enthusiasm of tax administration, we become overzealous and that causes a lot of agony, particularly to the honest taxpayer who believes that I have done no wrong but why should I be in general category of facing the wrath of tax administration.
“Similarly, when people talk about administration of different departments of the government, bureaucracy, it is very unfortunate that all are brushed in the same language. And therefore it becomes incumbent on all of us to collectively recognise our responsibility. Each one of us, as an individual, represents 80,000 officers. Each one of us will have to recognise that my actions are going to reflect on the image of 79,999 colleagues,” Goyal said.
He added that in the last few years there has been an “honest attempt” to change the culture to make the administration very taxpayer friendly, to continue to continuously bring down tax rates, make compliance easier, make compliance more technology-driven and ensuring that every rupee of tax collected is put to good use and used for the welfare and greater good of society.
“We are here to do a job to ensure that the revenues of the government, which are rightfully due to be collected and which go to serve the poor of India, to create infrastructure, which go to develop security for our borders should not be lost. No revenue should be lost,” Goyal said.
“But I do believe that many steps that have been taken over the last few years to create the atmosphere where our officers should be welcomed rather than avoided will continue in the years to come … at this stage, I also appeal to the business community that it is time to do business ethically and straight. Those days are gone when there was era of very high taxes, very high import duties, very high indirect and direct taxes, which caused people to look at different avenues to skip tax,” he added.
Goyal, who has been given temporary additional charge of the Finance and Corporate Affairs Ministry in the absence of Arun Jaitley, said he is recovering rapidly. He added that he is only “standing in” for Jaitley.
“I had a chance to talk to him late last night and actually even early morning today. He is in good health, recovering very rapidly,” Goyal said.
“And I am sure all of you will join me in wishing him the best of health and many many years of service. He sent his regards to all award winners,” he said.
Goyal said Jaitley has ably held the stewardship of the Finance Ministry over the last five years and under his leadership historic developments like the Goods and Services Tax and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code have taken place. This, Goyal said, has helped in a 66 point jump in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, made it easier to trade and made India one of the brightest spots in the world economy.
CBIC Chairman P K Das said taking India into the top 50 countries in Ease of Doing Business rankings is the immediate challenge for the indirect tax body. “In making the vision possible, all stakeholders should collectively endeavour to lower the transaction cost and reduce the release time of the cargo as a precursor to make it within the top 50th rank. Harnessing artificial intelligence and blockchain technology would go a long way in creating a smart border and the CBIC is geared to use these tools to facilitate trade, travel and transportation of goods in the years to come,” Das said.