Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressing the media after the GST Council meet on Friday. - Photo by V. V. Krishnan

The GST Council, chaired by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, met in New Delhi today.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the GST Council to review all the problems arising from the new indirect tax regime. The council deliberated on GSTN glitches and issues faced by exporters.

Jaitley addressed the media after the meeting.

Change in rates

“Rates have been tweaked on 27 items,” Mr. Jaitley says.

– Sliced dried mangoes reduced from 12% to 5%

– Khakra and plain chapattis reduced to 5%

– ICDS food packets for children reduced from 18% to 5%

– Unbranded namkeen down to 5%

– Unbranded ayurvedic medicines down from 12% to 5%

– Plastic and rubber waste down from 18% to 5%

– Paper waste from 12% to 5%

– Yarn brought from 18% to 12%

– Many stones used in flooring, except marble and granite – will be now taxed at 18% instead of 28%

– A lot of items in stationery were at 28% now at 18%

– Diesel engine parts – brought down to 18% from 28%

– Services – zari job work – down from 12% to 5%

Quarterly returns

Those who have turnover till upto 1.5 crore, which will cover 90% of the assesses outside the composition scheme, will now file quarterly return instead of monthly returns.

For those with turnover above Rs 1.5 crore, the existing system will continue of three returns per month and so on.

Scheme for smaller players

The major tax collections (94-95%) coming from big players should keep rising, while the medium and small payers remain in tax net so that tax base is expanded, Mr. Jaitley says.

“So, the composition scheme where firms with upto Rs. 75 lakh turnover can participate – now that has been expanded today to include firms with turnover upto Rs 1 crore.

“There are 3 types of taxpayers under this scheme –

– Trading firms will pay 1% tax.

– Manufacturing firms will have to pay 2%

– Restaurants will have to pay 5%.

“The ambit of the composition scheme has been expanded,” the Finance Minister says.

e-wallet for exporters

The Finance Minister announces the setup of an e-wallet for exporters. “Since GST has no exemptions, for now, all exporters will be given an e-wallet. It will be given a notional amount as advance refund. And on the basis of this credit, firms can pay IGST and GST. And refunds will be offset against this.”

“We will strive to start the e-wallet facility as soon as possible, by April 1, 2018 definitely,” he said. “A professional tech firm will be appointed.”

On GST and exporters

Jaitley says, “The main concern for exporters was that there were no taxes on exports as they then become uncompetitive in the global market.

“Committee of officers had examined their problems. the facility for processing their refunds may take some more time.”

So it was decided that both Centre and State officials will be empowered to start processing refunds and give exporters cheques. For July, from October 10 and from October 18 for August. This is an interim measure. The committee has also suggested a long term solution.

On transition to GST

Pattern of collection (of GST) is not clear after two months because it was a period of transition, Jaitley says.


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