THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To uncover hidden imports of gold, diamond and platinum, the State Goods and Services Tax Department need only to invoke the seventh verse of the Gospel of Mathew. “Seek and ye shall find”.
The GST Department has decided to open a long overdue channel of communication with national agencies like Central Board of Excise and Customs.
This will allow the state department to verify data with Central agencies and, if mismatches are detected, they can initiate revenue recovery proceedings.
It is officially estimated that gold and platinum imports worth nearly Rs 2,000 crore were being concealed annually by players operating in Kerala alone. If the GST Department comes upon a gold or platinum hoard that a dealer cannot account for, the entire cache can be considered a ‘deemed sale’ and GST imposed.
This information exchange route is also seen as a subtle way of mobilising more revenue for the state without burdening the common man.
Neither the earlier Commercial Sales Tax Department nor its new avatar, the GST department, has ever collected such details from any Central agency and had compiled a data bank. “It is this failure that has allowed dealers to get away with import suppression,” a top GST Department source said.
The data of import of gold, diamond and platinum by dealers with the director general of System and Management, Central Excise and Customs, it has been found, vastly differed from the details furnished by the dealer at the state level. “We just have to ask, through institutional bodies like the Regional Economic Intelligence Committee set up for information exchange, to secure the data.
Once we have the data, it will be easy for the department to pull up dealers or individuals who have concealed their imports and impose a penalty on them,” the official said.
The latest Comptroller and Auditor General report had revealed that six dealers in four assessment circles, half of them banks, had imported gold, diamond and platinum amounting to Rs 4,191.16 crore against which only Rs 496.69 crore was conceded. “The suppression of import purchase worked out to Rs 3,694.46 crore and the resultant short levy of tax, interest and penalty worked out to Rs 126.70 crore,” the report had pointed out.