India’s government outlined major economic formalization within the next 10 years. Formal economies create new tax incentives and remove financial burdens an informal economy leaves in place. Informal economies have left in place jobs with no benefits. They can create significant pay gaps between those in informal economies and formal economies. The latest step in formalizing the economy is formalizing the “mom-and-pop” shops, thus creating boosted tax bases and increasing a taxpayer database to remove further economic burdens from the poorest Indians.
Formal Versus Informal Economies
An informal economy or informal economic sector is common worldwide in developing nations. An informal economy or sector is a type of market, job or business that can generate reliable revenue but the government does not properly tax or track. From their offset, informal economies seemed promising, especially to the workers, as they promised a reliable transition between a developing nation and a nation with a solid and robust economy. Instead, as many informal sectors have yet to formalize, they and their workers are putting extra strain on the economy without paying fair taxes.
The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the informal economy workers. In most cases, an informal economic worker works on a case-by-case basis, such as cab and bus drivers in Africa or market vendors. The informal workforce predominantly defines work done on a one-to-one transactional case. The informal economy has been necessary for an economic transition to find areas with sustainable economic growth. However, economic growth, job opportunities, and income possibilities remain low if those areas remain informal.
Workers in informal economic sectors tend to be poorer and have fewer chances to create an upward financial movement for themselves. The continuance of an informal sector or business separates workers from tax benefits, government resources and assistance as needed. As a whole, this can limit the potential upward mobility for an entire region or nation, limiting sustainable economic growth and leaving poverty rates higher than they would be if an economy were to formalize.
Why is India Formalizing its Economy?
India has been aiming to formalize its economy for years, and current Prime Minister Narendra Modi is spearheading the efforts. PM Modi and his government are formalizing India’s economy through sweeping policy changes that can keep workers safe and markets flexible while decreasing poverty rates as access to government assistance improves. Formalizing India’s economy is not an easy task, with a great deal of pushback coming from the informal work sectors, but for long-lasting economic growth, the government began taking small steps in the formalization process.
About 93% of India’s workforce works in its informal economy. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and citizens in informal work positions lost most, if not all, of their income, they had to turn to government assistance, forcing a formalization process that proved beneficial for all. Between 2019 and 2021, India’s poverty rate dropped from 55% to 16%, an impressive economic recovery aided by Modi’s push for formalizing India’s economy.
Formalizing India’s economy has been a long time coming, and the government is determined to capitalize on the improvements made during the pandemic and create stable, sustainable growth that benefits all Indian citizens.
The Latest Formalization Steps
The latest steps in formalizing India’s economy include expanding the Goods and Services Tax (GST). PM Modi originally introduced the GST to formalize the economy and plans to expand the GST for the small “mom-and-pop” stores. Expanding the GST is not the first step India has taken to formalize the sector of small corner stores. India’s government implemented zero Merchant Discount Rates (MDRs) on all digital financial transactions for stores earning less than Rs 20,000 a month.
Expanding the GST will bring additional businesses under the tax umbrella to lighten economic burdens on others and other businesses that may have heavier taxes as compensation for the remaining untaxed businesses. Formalizing India’s economy brings the mom-and-pop stores government assistance as needed, as many suffered due to shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, and business-to-customer (B2C) interactions minimized. With the GST’s growth, the Indian government wants to use private and public databases to track the development of B2C interactions to understand each region’s economic growth and stability.
Formalizing India’s economy is necessary for lifting millions of citizens out of poverty, creating jobs that can last generations and bringing tax and government benefits to all citizens. PM Modi and his government are striving to support their citizens in unprecedented ways in India. Expanding the Goods and Services Tax is one of many ways to build national economic strength.
– Clara Mulvihill