GST Council to fix rates on gold, biscuits today
With less than a month to go for the rollout of the new indirect tax regime, the GST Council will meet on Saturday to sort out the pending issues, including tax rates for gold, biscuits and a few other commodities.
The Council, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising state counterparts, will also review tax rates for some goods in view of representations received from industry.
"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.
This will probably be the last meeting of the GST Council before the implementation of the new tax regime from July 1. The GST Council had last month put over 1,200 goods and 500 services in the four tax brackets of 5, 12, 18 and 28 per cent. Beside, it had imposed cess over and above the peak rate of 28 per cent on demerit and luxury goods.
However, the Council had deferred a decision on the tax rates on six commodities -- biscuits, textiles, footwear, bidis, bidi wrapper leaves (tendu patta), agriculture equipments, as well as precious metals, pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, coins and imitation jewellery. According to sources, certain states have pitched for a 4 per cent tax rate along with input tax credit on gold so that the effective incidence on the precious metal remains at the existing level of 2 per cent.
As regards biscuits, sources said it was discussed in the last meeting of the Council in Srinagar. Certain states sought a zero levy on biscuits which were priced below Rs 100/kg, while the Centre wanted to put it in the 12 per cent bracket.
"Biscuits would be a political call," a source said.
Currently, excise duty is not levied on biscuits priced below Rs 100/kg, but states levy VAT.
As regards textiles, the GST Council is likely to categorise the items as branded and unbranded. Besides, it may take up for reconsideration certain items in which the proposed tax rate works out to be significantly higher than the current incidence.
Several industry bodies, including those representing auto and FMCG sectors, have pitched for a reconsideration of the tax rate on hybrid cars and ayurvedic products, respectively.
The government has already indicated that the Council will reconsider duty on solar panel equipment and lower it to 5 per cent from the proposed 18 per cent.
The GST will unify 16 different levies and create an uniform market for seamless movement of goods and services.