The goods and services tax (GST) has been presented as the major tax reform for the Indian economy. It is therefore of importance to examine the impact it has had on the economy, as well as on the citizens of the economy. There are three broad categories of evidence to look at:
The impact on revenues of various governments has been examined at some length in Chapter 9. Hence this chapter will look into some of the remaining aspects and present some concluding observations.
Impact of GST on Economic Growth and Inflation
One of the long-term objectives of introducing GST is that it will reduce the extent of hidden and embedded taxes in the system and thereby create opportunities for investment in order to capitalise on the altered tax regime. The change to GST as a predominant indirect tax was expected to increase gross domestic product (GDP) and reduce inflation. International experience shows that GDP growth falls after introduction of GST but it recovers after two—three quarters and, conversely, inflation rises in the initial quarters before it declines (The Treasury, Australian Government 2003). While it is barely four quarters since the introduction of GST in India and hence the evidence of the reversal of the initial trends might not be visible yet, it would be interesting to identify the trends so far.
Impact on Overall Growth
Year-to-year growth rate of gross value added (GVA) at basic prices (2011–12 series, at constant prices) shows
that growth rate was falling since Q4 of 2015–16 and it was 5.6 per cent at Q1 of 2017–18. The introduction of GST on 1 July 2017 lifts the growth rate of GVA as evident in Figure C.1. However, the average growth rate during 2017–18 (6.4 per cent) is lower than that achieved in 2015–16 (8.1 per cent) and 2016–17 (7.1 per cent). In drawing conclusions about the impact of GST on GVA from these numbers, it should be borne in mind that seven months prior to the introduction of GST, the economy received a shock in the form of withdrawal of high denomination notes.