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This year we’re better prepared to face pandemic: Economic Affairs and Revenue Secretary Tarun Bajaj

In light of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases across the nation, Tarun Bajaj, the Economic Affairs and Revenue Secretary, emphasized that India is better equipped to confront the pandemic this time around, relying on vaccines and other measures. In an interview with The Indian Express, Bajaj pointed out that despite concerns, the government anticipates meeting revised revenue targets. He noted a resilient economy, as evidenced by the rise in goods and services tax (GST) collections.

Addressing concerns about the impact on direct taxes, Bajaj acknowledged a relatively modest decrease of 2-3% in gross revenue compared to the previous year. He expressed confidence in the country’s improved readiness to face the pandemic without resorting to extensive lockdowns, emphasizing the ongoing functioning of the economy.

Regarding the services sector, Bajaj conceded that the recovery might not unfold as initially expected. However, he asserted that the government, armed with enhanced medical infrastructure and widespread vaccination, is better positioned to manage the situation more effectively.

When questioned about the inclusion of petroleum products under GST, Bajaj suggested a pragmatic approach, focusing on immediate priorities within the GST framework. He hinted at Finance Minister discussions on the matter and emphasized addressing low-hanging fruit in GST before delving into complex issues.

Concerning the GST Council’s agenda, Bajaj indicated a potential discussion on the pending matter of inverted duty structure in the next meeting. Meanwhile, he acknowledged the challenges faced by the banking and MSME sectors, citing the conclusion of the moratorium. Bajaj expressed optimism about a specialized Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) for the MSME sector, adding that the banking sector, supported by Budget announcements, is well-positioned to weather the challenges.