As the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime inches closer with less than a month to go for its rollout, the GST Council will meet for the 15th time on Saturday to finalise tax rates and cess for pending items including gold, biscuits, biris, textiles and footwear. Pending rules pertaining to returns and transition are also expected to be finalised in the meeting.
Centre is likely to push for a 5 per cent tax rate for precious metals including gold, officials said. Some states have favoured the higher tax rate for gold, while some states have asked for a 4 per cent tax rate along with input tax credit so that the effective incidence on the precious metal remains at the existing 2 per cent, they said.
For biscuits, certain states have sought a zero levy on biscuits priced below Rs 100 per kg, while the Centre wants to tax them at 12 per cent. The issue along with tax rate on footwear had come for discussion in the previous meeting in Srinagar. At present, excise duty is not levied on biscuits priced below Rs 100 per kg, but they attract state taxes such as VAT.
The Council is also likely to review the tax rates for certain goods after representations made by the industry. Several industry associations, including those from auto and FMCG sectors, have asked the government to reconsider the tax rate on hybrid cars, ayurvedic products, agarbattis and hospitality sector. The government has already indicated that the Council will reconsider tax rate on solar panel equipments and bring it down to 5 per cent from the proposed 18 per cent.
In its fourteenth meeting, the GST Council had fixed the tax rates for over 1,200 goods and 500 services in the five tax brackets of zero, 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. Also, it had imposed cess over and above the rate of 28 per cent on demerit and luxury goods.
The Council had not decided the tax rates on six commodities — biscuits; textiles; footwear; biris, biri wrapper leaves (tendu patta); agriculture equipments; precious metals, pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, coins and imitation jewellery along with some branded food products such as wheat flour (atta).
The meeting on Saturday is likely to be among the last one or two meetings of GST Council before the proposed rollout from July 1. The meeting will also be crucial as some states have asked for a review of the rollout timeline. West Bengal has already stated that the GST is not acceptable in its present form.
The finance ministry said the meeting is important for finalisation of tax rates for pending items and draft rules. “This meeting is important because it is likely to finalise the rates of tax and cess to be levied on the commodities remaining … approval of amendments to the draft GST rules and related forms are also on the agenda among others,” a finance ministry statement said.