The GST Council will meet on May 28; pay gap, rate on essential elements of COVID on the agenda

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the 43rd GST Council meeting on May 28, her office tweeted.

While the GST Council meeting has not been called for more than seven months, the Union Finance Ministry announced on Saturday that the next meeting of the committee that would decide on taxes on goods and services will be held on May 28.

After more than a dozen central and state levies such as excise duty, services tax and VAT were included in a national goods and services tax (GST) in 2017, the council, headed by the Union Minister of Finance and comprising representatives of all States and Union Territories, has been mandated to meet quarterly to deliberate on ongoing issues.

The GST Council last met on October 5, 2020 to finalize the outlines of state borrowing to close the tax revenue gap. The meeting was extended and ended on October 12.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will chair the 43rd GST Council meeting on May 28, her office tweeted.

“Smt @nsitharaman will chair the 43rd meeting of the GST Council via videoconference at 11 am in New Delhi on May 28, 2021. The meeting will be attended by MOS Shri @ianuragthakur in addition to state and UT finance ministers and senior officials of the government and states of the Union, “It said.

States led by opposition parties have complained about not having held the GST Council meeting in recent weeks. Earlier this week, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra wrote to Sitharaman to request the urgent convening of the meeting to discuss the issue of lack of state compensation and other outstanding issues.

“You know very well that the GST Council was mandated to meet once a quarter. Sadly, this solemn mandate has been violated twice, failing to call a Council meeting for two consecutive quarters – not even virtually.

“It has undermined a federal institution, where all states are represented regardless of political parties, regions or population size, alongside the Indian government. I’m concerned that not having regular meetings will also lead to a trust deficit, ”Mitra wrote.

When the GST was implemented, states were promised that they would be compensated for any shortfall in tax revenue resulting from their taxes being included in a national GST, for the first five years. This was to be done by levying a tax, in addition to the GST rate, on certain luxury and sin products.

However, the accumulations in the compensation fund were below what states had promised to be paid even before the pandemic broke out. And with the second wave of infections that have forced lockdowns in most states and UTs, collections are quite short. States have also pushed for a GST exemption on critical items such as vaccines.

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