GST Council working towards GST roll-out as per deadline: Government

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) Despite the impasse in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on the issue of assesse jurisidiction, the government on Wednesday said it was working with a positive attitude towards meeting the deadline for the new indirect tax regime.

“Members of the Council are participating in the meetings with a very positive attitude and are working towards the roll-out of GST as per the deadline,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement here.

The government has been targeting April 1, 2017 for the roll out of the new indirect tax regime but the impasse in the Council on the issue of assessee jurisdiction and state Finance Ministers complaining of revenue loss as a result of demonetisation has cast serious doubts over meeting the deadline.

“At present, agenda items pertaining to GST related draft laws and provisions for cross empowerment to ensure single interface under GST are under consideration of the GST Council,” the statement said.

The Ministry maintained that the discussions in Council have been very cordial and all decisions till now have been taken by consensus.

However, doubts also loom on meeting the deadline as the three GST bills – Central GST (cGST), Integrated GST and State Compensation Law – would not be placed in the Parliament’s Winter Session, which ends on December 16, as the drafts of the three bills first need to be approved by the Council.

“99 sections the Model GST Law have already been considered by the Council and remaining sections will be discussed in the next meeting of the Council scheduled for December 22-23,” the statement said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley earlier had said that the process of approval of the draft bills will be a time-consuming procedure as the Council is taking clause by clause approval.

“We have started clause by clause approval. It will take a lot of time for the approval (on the drafts), it seems,” he had said.

But as compared to the time taken in arriving at a consensus on the Constitutional Amendment Bill for GST, the subsequent events after the passing of the Bill indicate that the government and the states have done remarkably well in taking all necessary steps for implementation of GST, Finance Ministry said.

The President’s assent was received on the Constitutional Amendment Act for GST on September 8, 2016, after a week of which the GST Council was created.

The GST Council has been entrusted with the power to make recommendations to the Centre and the states on various GST related issues, including the threshold limit of turnover below which goods and services may be exempted from GST and the rates including floor rates with bands of GST.

Some of the important decisions taken by the Council in its six meetings held so far are:

– Bands of rates of goods under GST shall be 5 per cent, 12 per cent, 18 per cent and 28 per cent and in addition there would be a category of exempt goods. Further, a cess would be levied on certain goods such as luxury cars, aerated drinks, pan masala and tobacco products, over and above the rate of 28 per cent for payment of compensation to the states.

– The threshold limit for exemption from levy of GST would be Rs 20 lakh for states (Rs 10 lakh for special category states).

– To compensate states for five years for loss of revenue due to implementation of GST, the base year for the revenue of the state would be 2015-16 and a fixed growth rate of 14 per cent will be applied.

– Approval of the draft GST rules on registration, payment, return, refund and invoice, debit and credit notes with the understanding that minor changes may be permitted with the approval of the Chairperson, if required, due to suggestions from the stakeholders or from the law department.

– All entities exempted from payment of indirect tax under any existing tax incentive scheme would pay tax in the GST regime and the decision to continue with any incentive scheme shall be with the concerned state or central government. In case any state government or central government decides to continue any existing exemption/incentive scheme, it will be administered by way of a reimbursement mechanism.