In a sign of sustained improvement in business sentiment, Punjab has reported a robust growth in the goods and services tax (GST) collection in the first half of financial year 2021-22 with a hefty increase in revenue from the pre-Covid levels.The GST revenue, including state goods and services tax (SGST) and integrated goods and services tax (IGST) in the first six months (April to September) of the current fiscal stood at ₹7,851 crore, which is 67.55% more than in the corresponding period a year ago, and 54% higher than the mop-up in the pre-pandemic year of 2019-20, according to the indirect tax data compiled by the state taxation department.The state’s GST collection was ₹5,097 crore in the April-September period of 2019-20, but it dropped to ₹4,685 crore in the same period of 2020-21 after coronavirus broke out, bringing business activities to a halt and battering the economy.The jump in revenue in the current fiscal indicates a sustained recovery after strong economic rebound after the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic with pent-up demand driving sales across sectors. The taxation department expects the positive trend to continue in the second half of the current fiscal as well.Increased demand, anti-evasion measuresTaxation commissioner Nilkanth S Avhad said the GST collection in the first six months of 2021-22 was indicative of growth in consumption and better enforcement and increased compliance. “Anti-evasion activities, including increased supervision, data analysis, plugging loopholes and on-road detention, have also contributed, but there is a lot more that needs to be done,” he said. The department officials have detained 3,000 vehicles and imposed penalty of ₹76 crore in the past six months for various violations.