Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said there will be a lot of changes to the Goods and Services Tax rates based on negotiations at the GST Council meeting on November 9 and 10 in Guwahati. Chidambaram accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government of avoiding a debate and voting in the Rajya Sabha on GST Bills.
The Congress leader said the upcoming Gujarat elections had forced the Centre to consider the Opposition’s suggestions and experts’ advice on “flaws in the implementation” of the tax regime. “[The] panic-stricken government has no option but to concede demands for change,” Chidambaram said on Twitter.
The council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, is expected to cut the rates on many products and come up with ways to fix technical glitches in the system at the meeting. It is also expected to discuss lowering the tax slab of restaurants to 12%. At present, restaurants that have air conditioners charge a GST rate of 18% on food bills while the non-AC ones levy 12% tax.
On October 22, then Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had said that GST rates need to be overhauled to reduce the burden on small businesses, given that the new system is now firmly implemented. He had said this will help small businessmen comply with the new rules and accept the GST regime better. Adhia is now the finance secretary.
In its last major overhaul, the GST Council on October 6 announced a slew of revisions in the new indirect tax structure, mainly targeting small and medium enterprises and exporters, who had made representations to the panel about problems they faced.