GST Council Meet Gets Underway in Guwahati, Congress Protests

Expect tax cuts on 80 pc items in 28 pc slab as GST Council begins 2-day meet in Guwahati today

The GST Council is also expected to offer more relief to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in terms of compliance burden.

While the officials of state/union territory Finance Departments met during the first day of the meeting on Thursday, Finance Ministers of at least 24 states will meet on Friday, with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the chair to review the situation after three months of the new tax regime's implementation. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and GST member Sushil Kumar Modi on Wednesday said that out of 227 items falling in highest tax slab is likely to be reduced from 28 per cent to 18 per cent in the upcoming Council meet. While speaking at India Today Conclave earlier this week, the Finance Minister said that some of the items should never have been in the 28 per cent slab.

"They were not ready to listen to us".

Karnataka agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda said eventually the 12% and 18% slabs should converge and that only a few items should remain in the 28% slab.

Also, eating out at hotels, which has room tariff of more than Rs. 7,500, should attract a uniform 18 per cent tax rate instead of any separate category for 5-star hotel, the GoM recommended.

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Officials have said that items now being taxed at 28 per cent will be looked into. "The whole idea is, as your revenue collections neutralises we must prune it", he had said. Wooden furniture is handmade by unorganised sector artisans and is mostly used by middle class families and there have been demands for lowering tax incidence on them.

The minister said that exclusion of electricity, crude oil, petrol, diesel, jet fuel, natural gas and real estate out of GST means that about half of total indirect tax revenue will be out of GST. The GST Council will be having its meeting tomorrow in Guwahati, Assam, and it will announce its decision subsequently.

In a bid to promote digital payments under GST, the Council could also consider incentivising merchants and traders by providing benefits in terms of credit or exemption within central and state GST.

Ever since the new tax regime came into being, the GST Council has reworked various provisions to make it more industry friendly. The aim is also to simplify the GST return filing system.

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