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Common sense has prevailed, P Chidambaram says a day after GST Council reduces tax on 178 items

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman criticised the Congress for claiming credit for the decision.

The Congress on Saturday said common sense had prevailed after the Goods and Services Tax Council lowered tax rates on 178 items from 28% to 18%. The party also called for a structural change in the tax system.

It has taken “four months and 10 days for common sense to germinate, flower and ripen into a fruit”, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in a tweet, sarcastically adding that the Finance Ministry “must be complimented for ‘improving’ the macro-economic situation”.

Earlier in the day, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said the party and the people of the country should be credited for the GST Council’s decision to lower the tax rates.

Soon after, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman criticised the Congress for claiming credit and said the party should first finalise its stand on the GST regime.

“Congress wants to take credit for GST and being in Opposition, they also want to say that the government took action because of them,” Sitharaman was quoted as saying by IANS. “How are they making this claim? Is the GST Council under them?”

On Friday, just after the GST Council announced its changes, Chidambaram had tweeted a “thank you” to Gujarat, indicating that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government lowered the taxes in an effort to appease the poll-bound state. The Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14.

On Friday, the GST Council announced that it had decided to lower the rates levied on 177 goods and kept only 50 products under the highest tax slab of 28%. These include air conditioners, washing machines, paints and cement. Chocolate, chewing gum, aftershave, beauty products, powder, detergent and marble now fall under the 18% slab.

The GST has five tax slabs – no tax, 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%.

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