GST rates slashed on 50 items..

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Goyal said that while GST tax on sanitary pads was cut from 12% to zero, rakhis were exempted from the tax. "Simplification and rationalisation has been given maximum priority", Goyal said while briefing reporters after the 28th GST Council meeting here.although they would continue to pay tax on a monthly basis. Previously, the sanitary pads were kept under the 12 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) slab.

Addressing a presser, Goyal said, "After careful considerations and discussion with the state finance ministers, we (the GST Council) have chose to implement these changes for the welfare of the middle classes and small businesses and traders".

Other items for which the GST rate was cut include footwear, water heaters, electric irons, refrigerators, lithium ion batteries (used in electric vehicles), hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, food appliances and ethanol.

In a mini-budget of sorts, the GST council significantly pruned the list of items placed in the highest tax slab of 28 percent, demonstrating the Centre and states' growing confidence in the new system that seeks to unify India into one common national market. GST on paints, varnishes, wall putty, leather items, special objective vehicles, trucks and trailers have also been reduced to 18 per cent from 28 per cent. "It has also been decided that the GST Council will rise above revenue consideration and focus more on job creation and economic growth", Goyal said. He will not have to file any more returns. Small handicraft items have also been exempted from GST.

Return forms will be simplified into two formats, Sugaam and Sahaj, for the composite dealers and for B2B or B2C dealers.

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The plea to exempt sanitary napkin from GST has been going on for a long time.

Sources, however, said the tax rate reduction is likely to cost around Rs 8,000-10,000 crore annually to the exchequer.

Consumer-durable makers welcomed the government's move, saying it will help domestic manufacturing and create more employment opportunities, the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association said.

"There will be minimal impact of these decisions on revenue collections". This was the first Council meeting he chaired after taking charge of the Finance Ministry. A report has been submitted in this regard but no decision has been taken on sugar cess yet.

The GST Council also deferred Reverse Charge Mechanism (RCM) by a year to September 30, 2019.

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