India has crossed a major milestone by implementing the Goods and Service Tax (GST) in the country. GST is a form of Value Added Tax that would include all the indirect taxes into one throughout all the regions of India. That means every State will have the same GST rate unlike now where the states can fix their own rates. There are polarising viewpoints on the impact of GST in the region. There is the notion that GST will create lot of jobs in Assam but not everyone agrees to it.
Employment opportunities with GST
Veteran journalist and Secretary of Nanda Talukdar Foundation, Mrinal Talukdar said that GST will generate employment in a large scale in Assam. Speaking to Eclectic Northeast, he said, ‘I would like to appeal to all the activists and organizations that before doing any protest over GST, we should remember there is a huge job market for our youth. GST can create jobs for around 15,000 to 20,000 youth in Assam. One doesn’t even need to become a commerce graduate for this.’
‘ Every business in Assam earning over Rs 10 lakhs per annum will come under GST registration. A business which makes Rs 10 lakh a year means their turnover will be Rs 2800 every day. Most shops in Assam’s town and cities do this kind of business. If we hold their profit margin at 10%, then their daily profit is Rs 280 and monthly profit will be Rs 8400. In smaller towns like Boroma and Kakopathar, you will find more than 100 such shops doing business of Rs 2800 or more daily. In bigger cities like Guwahati, Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Lakhimpur etc, the scope will be even bigger.’
‘ Now these shops will need to file their GST returns within 10th of every month and they will need to people who will maintain their accounts and upload their invoice related data with the help of GST software. Now, in a State like Assam, there will be around 1.5 lakh GST registration. However, only 30-35,000 businesses will be able to hire a full time accountant. Other small shopkeepers and retailers will look to hire people for Rs 1500-2000 per month to do the job for them. Someone with basic knowledge of information technology will be able to do this job after becoming familiar with the GST software’ added Talukdar.
Jobs with GST not a long term prospect
However, Manoj Kumar Talukdar, Associate Professor, Department of Economic in Cotton College said that he is sceptical about the probability of large scale job creation because of GST. ‘ Firstly, government has really simplified filing of GST returns. I don’t think most shops will need to hire a person separately for this purpose. Even if initially some businessmen do hire such people, it would not really impact the job scenario in the long run. Secondly, only those businesses whose return exceeds Rs 10 lakh per annum will need to file GST returns. I don’t think most businessmen and retailers in small towns do business of this amount. However, in cities like Guwahati and Tinsukia, there will be no dearth of such businesses.’
Noted journalist and former BJP leader Adip Phukan also said that it is unlikely that permanent jobs will be created. ‘ Youngsters with sound knowledge of computer will definitely get employment but it is not going to do them any long term good. Also, most small traders wouldn’t really want to hire someone for just doing accounts. They would rather learn the thing and do it themselves to save the Rs 2000.’
It may be mentioned that Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) had launched an offline Excel-based format for traders and businesses to upload sales data on the GST portal. This Excel template can be downloaded from the GST common portal, and can be used by taxpayers to collate all invoice related data on a regular basis.
In the excel sheet, the businesses would have to give details of transaction, like supply invoices issued to registered tax payers, export invoice details, consolidated details of supplies to consumers, credit/debit note details to registered/unregistered taxpayers and details of documents issued.
Whenever, a new thing is introduced, speculations galore and GST is no exception. While we will gradually get used to GST, it will interesting to see what impact it has on the life of youths in Assam.
By Nabarun Guha