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GST Council meeting: Congress-ruled states demand major overhaul, ask for highest tax rate at 18%

The party leaders said a lot of items of mass consumption are in the 28% slab.

Congress-ruled states on Thursday demanded that real estate, petroleum products and other items be brought under the new Goods and Services Tax regime. The GST Council, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, will meet in Guwahati on Friday, where it is expected to shorten the list of items mentioned in the 28% tax category.

The states of Punjab, Karnataka and Puducherry wrote to the finance minister demanding “nothing less than a complete overhaul of the GST structure”, reported The Economic Times. Besides bringing real estate and petroleum products under the ambit of GST, the party has complained about the glitches with the GST filing system and asked that the tax rate be limited to 18%.

“If GST is run properly in 150 countries, then why should it not run smoothly in India,” Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said at a press conference. The Congress is unanimous on these demands and that if GST is to be run, “it should be run properly”, Badal told PTI.

Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said the Congress had earlier asked the Centre to keep the GST rate not more than 18%. However, the government introduced five tax rate slabs of 0%, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. “We find that a lot of items of mass consumption are also in the 28% slab,” he said.

He proposed that a few exceptional luxury goods can be kept in the 28% tax slab, but construction materials such as tiles, bricks, cement, taps should not have been put in the same tax bracket, The Indian Express reported. “Earlier, there was overconfidence from the BJP side. Now that there is a general public outcry, now they have started listening…we welcome that they are willing to discuss,” he added.

Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy claimed that the state’s tourism revenue has come down by 30% in the last three months because of high taxation in the hotel segment.

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