Modi hints at GST relief for small, medium-sized firms

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Thousands of small Indian businesses and traders who suffer a higher cost of doing business under a new multi-rate tax regime could receive some relief next week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Saturday that if there is consensus at the next meeting of the Goods and Services Council (GST) on November 9 and 10, the necessary measures could be taken to help small and medium-sized businesses and traders.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which are crucial for Modi’s plans to create one million jobs a month and many of whose promoters are traditional voters of his Bharatiya Janata Party, have been affected by the massive fiscal review that he added layers of additional bureaucracy for companies and hit exports.

India has about 56 million small and medium enterprises that represent about 110 million jobs in the country, according to official data.

“We have positively recognized all the problems and suggestions of small businesses and traders,” Modi told industry leaders at a conference on trade reforms.

“And I trust that if the states do not create any difficulties, all the necessary steps to strengthen the business world and the economy of the country will be taken at the GST board meeting.”

MSMEs with annual sales of less than 1.5 million rupees, which were previously exempt from central excise duty, have been included in the GST regime due to a lower sales threshold of Gs 20 lakh for GST.