With the Goods and Services Tax completing one year this July, the one issue that has been the bone of contention is the inclusion of petroleum products under its ambit. However, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Friday said in the second year, the GST Council would look at bringing petroleum products under GST in phases.
Adhia’s views were seconded by Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs Chairman S Ramesh, who acknowledged that there was a demand from all quarters to include fuel products under the indirect tax regime, but said the modalities would have to be thrashed out by the GST Council as some states had divergent views.
Currently, diesel, petrol, crude oil, natural gas and aviation turbine fuel are outside the purview of goods and services tax. The Centre currently levies a total of Rs 19.48 per litre of excise duty on petrol and Rs 15.33 per litre on diesel. On top of this, states levy Value Added Tax (VAT). “One of the demands that are there before us, we will see… everything will happen in stages,” Adhia said at an event here.
The civil aviation ministry has repeatedly voiced its concern on the high rate of taxes on aviation turbine fuel, which accounts for a chunk of an airline’s operational costs and also has a bearing on fares. Earlier, the civil aviation ministry had also written to the finance ministry seeking the inclusion of jet fuel under the indirect tax regime with full input tax credit.
A senior finance ministry official said that natural gas and ATF were likely to be among the first entrants under GST. “We have done a lot but that it does not mean that there is no scope for the betterment of the existing system. We still believe that we need to do a lot more and we are working in that direction,” Adhia said.
On the issue of automation of refund, the finance secretary said it was meant to be automated right from day one but unfortunately people made so many mistakes in filing return that the income-tax department had to get into manual mode at the last moment. “We are again trying to make it completely automatic, the entire refund process. This is the next thing. In terms of simplification of rates, slabs, we do understand the need for it but we did what was best in the given scenario. We could not have done anything other than this because we had to take care of revenue, we had to take care of concern of the poor. Certainly, we must move in that direction of something better than that,” Adhia said.