With less than 10 days left for the government to present union budget 2020, newly inducted chairman and also a member (budget) at Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), John Joseph, in a candid interaction with CNBC-TV18's Timsy Jaipuria said revenue department and officials are geared up to face the challenge of higher Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection target.
"In the past, revenue departments were not found wanting when the challenges were there. This is a great challenge, we also understand it," Joseph said in his first interview after taking charge earlier this month.
Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Joseph said, "Last month, the industrial production index showed an uptrend. There are green shoots in business activity."
Q. What are the measures that CBIC has taken of late to assist the Exim trade in India?
A: To boost ease of doing business ranking and to facilitate importers and exporters of the country, recently a major change has been made by customs. We have allowed importers and exporters to pay terminal handling charges directly to the terminal operators. Normally, the shipping lines were charging these terminal handling charges to the customers and were paying the basic rates to the terminals. A lot of complaints were being received by customs department by the exporters and importers on high charges being charged by the shipping lines. According to them, terminal charges Rs 2,000-3,000 per box of 20 feet and shipping lines were charging the exporters and importers over Rs 5,000-15,000. The total number of boxes coming in the country is around 10 million so, the government has now intervened and this will save about Rs 4,000-5,000 crore for importers and exporters per year.
Importers and exporters have been complaining against the shipping lines, we took cognizance of the matter and now this will help in bringing down the cost of imports. Inflationary pressures on imported items will get reduced. Not just this, cost of exports will also get reduced and will become competitive globally. All in this measure alone will boost Exim trade and will create more jobs in the country and will give a fillip to the economy as well.
Q. Recently, revenue secretary had given a target of achieving GST revenue of Rs 1.15 lakh crore monthly and at least Rs 1.25 lakh crore in one of the remaining months, what do you make of these targets, will your department be able to achieve them?
A: In the past also, the revenue department was not found wanting when challenges were there. It's a brave challenge but we are all geared up to face that challenge. We will be definitely able to meet these targets. We at the centre and our people on the ground are also geared up to face these challenges.
Q. CBIC had asked field formations to give back feelers from the field on the economic activity, what are the feelers like, are green shoots back?
A: That’s right. Last month IIP figures also showed uptrend, hinting at green shoots. We are also hearing from fields that businesses are slowly getting back on track and green shoots are coming back.