GST Council reforms : How will the ordinary consumer benefit?

By Arnab Jyoti Das

Guwahati, November 10: In the meeting held today, the GST council has recommended major relief in GST rates on certain goods and services. These recommendations spread across many sectors and across commodities. As per these recommendations, the list of 28 percent GST rated goods is recommended to be pruned substantially, from 224 tariff headings to only 50 tariff headings including 4 headings which have been partially reduced to 18 percent.

Goods on which the Council has recommended a reduction in GST rate from 28 percent to 18 percent include certain electrical goods such as wires, cables, electrical boards etc. Toiletries such as shaving creams, shampoos, perfumes etc also fall under this category.  For other household goods like condensed milk, refined sugar, diabetic food, medicinal grade oxygen etc, the rate has been slashed from 18 percent to 12 percent.

For food enthusiasts and travelers, it must be noted that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Council has decided to cut the tax rate for restaurants to 5 percent. The new tax rate would be applicable to both AC and non-AC restaurants, except those in five-star hotels where room tariff of Rs 7500 and above per unit per day (even for a single room) will attract GST of 18 percent with full ITC.

Finance and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia said: “Fine for late filing will be cut to Rs 20 per day from Rs 200 for nil-liability tax filers.” A panel formed to make the composition scheme attractive was headed by Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who had recommended an increase in the annual turnover threshold to Rs 1.5 crore from the recently revised threshold of Rs 1 crore.

This move is likely to result in a revenue loss of Rs 20,000 crore but the government is looking to create a fund with a corpus of around Rs 20,000 crore to expedite refund of taxes paid or input credit on exports. The government has proposed to bring into effect the new recommendations from the midnight of November 15.