GST Council meet today: Covid relief, bringing oil and gas indirect tax regime on agenda

GST Council meet today Covid relief, bringing oil and gas indirect tax regime on agenda

NEW DELHI: The GST Council will meet in Lucknow on Friday to take decisions on issues related to duty revision that were put on the back burner in earlier meetings to focus on the Covid relief measures amid rising cases during the second wave of the pandemic.

The meeting, however, is expected to announce a few more Covid relief measures particularly on compliance matters. It will also announce a few measures to correct the inverted duty while discussing the compensation cess dues arising in 2021-22.

Two other important items, including lowering of GST rates for two-wheelers and bringing natural gas into the indirect tax fold may also be included in the agenda for discussion.

“Finance Minister Smt. @nsitharaman will chair the 45th GST Council meeting at 11 AM in Lucknow today. The meeting will be attended by MOS Shri @mppchaudhary besides Finance Ministers of States & UTs and Senior officers from Union Government & States,” the Ministry of Finance said in a tweet.

The GST Council has already met twice this year when the panel of finance ministers discussed GST compensation and the borrowing formula offered by the Centre towards compensating states for GST shortfall while also announcing a series of duty relief and easing of compliance measures towards Covid relief.

The 45th meeting of the council is expected to again discuss the compensation issue for the current year, but sources said it may also take a few steps to correct inverted duty structure without pursuing any increase in the GST rates or move towards converging GST to three rate structure.

Sources also said that the council at the meeting may also take up two other important items, including lowering of GST rates for two-wheelers and bringing natural gas into the indirect tax fold.

A top source in the finance ministry said that inverted duty correction, GST cut on two-wheelers and inclusion of natural gas into GST fold are on the agenda and hopefully the council will offer some solution that is in the best interest of all stakeholders.

Correction of inverted duty structure, especially in sectors such as fertilizer, steel utelsils, solar modules, tractors, tyres, electrical transformers, pharma, textile, fabric, railway locomotives among other goods is required. Inverted duty refers to tax rates on inputs being higher than those levied on finished products. This results in higher input credit claims by goods besides several administrative and compliance issues.

Currently, while duty on imported tyres is 10 per cent, its inputs i.e. rubber attracts 20 per cent duty. Similarly, solar modules do not attract any duty while its components attract 5-10 per cent duty. Similarly, the council may also consider lowering the GST rate of 28 per cent on two-wheelers to give a boost to its sales affected during the pandemic.

The Council has in principle agreed to include five petroleum products under GST, but has so far deferred its actual inclusion into the indirect as states fear a big loss of revenue. But now, the government is considering bringing natural gas under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime to begin with as it would be difficult to bring the entire oil and gas sector immediately under it.

Sources said that natural gas may be included under a three-tier GST structure where rates would vary depending on the usage. So, while piped natural gas (PNG) for homes may be kept at a lower rate of 5 per cent, commercial piped gas may attract the median 18 per cent GST rate and automobile fuel CNG may be kept in the highest bracket of 28 per cent.

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