September 27, 2021 3:24:20 am
A “review” of the current rate slab structure of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been explicitly incorporated in the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the two ministerial panels formed for spelling out a blueprint for GST reforms.
The panels’ brief incorporates an overarching mandate: an evaluation of “special rates” within the tax structure, rationalisation measures that include “a merger of tax rate slabs for simplifying the rate structure”, alongside a review of instances of inverted duty structure and an identification of potential sources of evasion to shore up revenues.
The Finance Ministry has constituted a seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) under Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai for “rate rationalisation” and another eight-member GoM under Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar for “GST system reforms”, orders issued on September 24 stated.
Incidentally, the mandate announced for the GoMs after the GST Council meeting on September 17 did not include a review of tax slabs. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had then said the ToR would relate to correction of inversion and rate rationalisation. The Indian Express had reported on Saturday that amid concerns of revenue buoyancy under GST, the GoMs will reassess the current tax slabs including a possible merger of some tax slabs.
The ToR for the GoM on rate rationalisation stated that it shall review inverted duty structure other than where the Council has already taken a decision to correct the inverted structure and recommend suitable rates to eliminate it so as to minimise instances of refunds due to inverted structure, and review the current tax slab rates and recommend changes needed to garner required resources. It shall also “review the current rate slab structure of GST, including special rates, and recommend rationalisation measures, including merger of tax rate slabs, required for a simpler rate structure in GST”.
“The GoM may suggest changes that may be implemented immediately and the roadmap for implementation for the changes that should be implemented in the short and medium term,” the order said. The Group may submit an interim report for such immediate measures as it may deem fit and will have to submit its report in two months, it added.
Members of the GoM on rate rationalisation include Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad; Goa’s Minister for Transport and Panchayati Raj, Housing, Protocol and Legislative Affairs Mauvin Godinho; Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal; Rajasthan’s Minister for Local Self Government, Urban Development and Housing, Law and Legal Affairs Shanti Kumar Dhariwal; Uttar Pradesh Finance Minister Suresh Kumar Khanna and West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra.
The other GoM on GST system reforms will review IT tools and interface available with tax officers and suggest measures to make the system more efficient and effective, identify potential sources of evasion, identify possible use of data analysis towards better compliance and revenue augmentation and suggest use of such data analysis and identify mechanisms for better coordination between Central and State tax administration. This GoM will give its recommendation to the Council from time to time and will review the implementation of reform measures approved by the Council, the order said.
Members of this GoM include Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Haryana Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala, Andhra Pradesh Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath, Assam Finance Minister Ajanta Neog, Chhattisgarh Commercial Taxes Minister TS Singh Deo, Odisha Finance and Excise Minister Niranajan Pujari and Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan.
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