A few hours before yesterday’s much awaited GST Council press briefing, a news began circulating in media circles: That jewellers can now sell gold and other jewellery items worth more than Rs 50,000 without asking for PAN cards of buyers.
Many media houses reported the news. Even business news channels tweeted the same from their social media handles. An illustrative screenshot is as below:
Instinctively, this move felt wrong and against the overall principles of the Central Government. On the one hand, PM Modi has repeatedly stressed on strong measures to curb black-money and tax evasion. On the other hand, when such steps are taken, it defeats the purpose.
Gold is long known to be an asset preferred by black money hoarders. Hence, the reactions on social media, based on such reports were understandably expressing anger:
Supporting black economy now?? https://t.co/YPnJmFUN0A
— Krantikara (@Krantikara) October 6, 2017
— Roshan.A (@meetrosh1) October 6, 2017
— αиѕнυℓ ?? #HDL (@Humtumandfun) October 6, 2017
Some even ascribed this move to the upcoming Gujarat state elections:
Thank u gujju community. Ur power has made modi to change rules & stop communism. https://t.co/PZKAZErd33
— Traditonalist (@TradHin) October 6, 2017
What most people did not realise that, some in the media had reported only half the facts in this case. In fact, a few media houses like ABP news, did report the entire news, in full context:
The full background of the story goes like this: From December 2015 onwards, jewellers had to obtain PAN cards for selling jewellery above Rs 2 lacs. Towards the end of August, jewellers having turnover of Rs 2 crores or more, were brought under the PMLA Act as “reporting entities”, on par with other institutions such as banks. The limit for reporting transactions under PMLA was Rs 50,000 and this was by default applied to the jewellers as well. Thus, the limit of Rs 2 lacs had now become Rs 50,000.
This had caused resentment among the jewellers community. The threshold of Rs 50000 was found to be too low since ordinary gold ornaments would easily cross the threshold. After the GST Council press meet, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia explained that the PMLA notification was withdrawn since they need to reconsider the threshold limit. Thus, the Rs 50000 limit was no longer in force.
Most media reports mentioned this removal of Rs 50000 threshold. But they failed to mention that although this threshold was removed, the erstwhile threshold of Rs 2 lacs still continued. This half-reporting created an impression that any sale of jeweller above Rs 50000 had been taken out of the net of PAN reporting.