New Delhi, March 4, 2017

Next meeting on March 16, Centre to table Bills in ensuing session of Parliament

Inching a step closer to the roll out of the country’s most ambitious tax reform, the Centre and States approved the model draft Bills for Centre and Integrated goods and services tax (GST).

“July 1, this year now optimistically looks like a possible date for the roll out of the GST,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed reporters on Saturday after the eleventh meeting of the GST Council.

The Council has also included a revised peak rate of 20 per cent under GST, instead from the earlier 18 per cent. This would mean that the total incidence of the tax could go as high as 40 per cent.

But smoothening concerns, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said that it would not impact the four-tier rate structure of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. “The Council felt that it should leave some scope for a higher rate of GST after five years when some components of the cess are merged with the tax. It accordingly, felt that the limit should be higher,” he said.

The next meeting of the Council will now be held on March 16, when it will finalise the draft Bills for State and Union Territory GST.

The UT-GST Bill would be for levying of the new tax in Union Territories that do not have a legislature (excluding Delhi and Puducherry).

In its last meeting held in Udaipur on February 18, the GST Council had approved the draft Compensation Bill.

Except for State GST Bill, which will be cleared by the state legislatures, the remaining four Bills will be introduced in the Parliament.

“The four laws will be approved by the Union Cabinet and taken to the Parliament in the coming session,” said Jaitley, who chairs the Council.

The second half of the Budget Session of Parliament will commence on March 9 and end on April 10.

Anti-profiteering agency:

Finance Ministry officials said that the proposed anti-profiteering agency under GST would not send out inspectors to check on prices but will look at applications made consumers.

“The Council has powers to set up a quasi-judicial authority to check any unexpected or unexplained price hike after the advent of GST,” said an official.

[The Hindu Business Line]