Synopsis of the 8th GST Council Meet
In a series of Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meetings, the 8th GST Council meet was conducted on 3-4 January 2017. With the government considering an early Budget session which is likely to be held in the first week of February 2017, time is running out to build a consensus among all the states and Centre on many contentious issues like Dual Control (cross-empowerment), the Integrated Goods and Services Tax Act, definition of states, GST Compensation Fund, etc. These contentious issues are likely to be considered during the next GST Council meet scheduled on 16 January 2017.
The synopsis of the 8th GST Council meet is as follows:
- No consensus has been achieved on ‘Dual Control’.
- The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the deadline of 1 April 2017 for GST implementation seems highly improbable.
- States demanded taxation rights for sales made in the high seas (within 12 nautical miles). Furthermore, the states requested the GST Council to increase the number of items on which this new Cess is to be levied. The Cess has been additionally proposed to compensate the states for their revenue loss (estimated at INR 900 billion).
- Accordingly, the GST Council assured that the Cess will be levied on a list of commodities notified by the GST Council. At the end of year five, this Cess will be merged with the GST rate or divided between the Centre and states, as the Council decides. Earlier, the GST Council had decided that the Cess would be levied only on four commodities.
- Delivering a presentation before the GST Council, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought exemption of IGST on goods transferred from Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the states. She added that since SEZs are considered as economic zones outside the country’s territory, IGST should not apply on transactions between them. She also sought lower GST rates for employment-intensive plantations, leather and cement industries and urged the Council not to end duty exemptions for exporters.
- As many as six sectors, including banking, insurance, IT, telecom and civil aviation delivered presentations before the GST Council and pressed for a single registration either with the Centre or states under the GST regime.