GST exemption limit fixed by Council, decision on rates later

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In its first set of decisions, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council on Friday fixed the turnover-based exemption limit from such levies at Rs 20 lakh, but left the decision on fixing the actual tax rates and the finalisation of draft rules for later.

Briefing the media after the two-day, maiden meeting of the apex decision-making body on the new indirect tax regime, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the council also decided that exemption for assessees in the northeastern region and hill states will be Rs 10 lakh.
The base year for compensation to states — on the basis of which they will get a share of the GST revenue — has been fixed as 2015-16, said the Council Chairman. “We have also decided that the compensation should be given at regular intervals to states.”
The Finance Minister, who is also Chairman of the Council, said the jurisdiction over assessees with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore and below will solely be with the states and for those above, it will be jointly with the central and state governments.
The council is scheduled to reconvene on September 30 and again from October 17-19.
“All existing cesses will be subsumed in GST,” Jaitley said, even as officials added that the draft rules and the model laws could be taken up on September 30.
“We will try to finalise the rates and the slabs during our meeting on October 17, 18 and 19,” said the Finance Minister on a matter that has widely divergent views among the states and the Centre.
Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian recommended a standard rate of 17-19 per cent in a recent report, even as some states have demanded a rates as high as 26-27 per cent.
On Thursday, it was evident that the task ahead towards consensus was not easy.
“Today, starting from September 22, we have roughly two months time till November 22 to resolve all the outstanding issues. Therefore, a draft timetable has been given, which also have been adopted,” Jaitley had said after the first day of the council meeting.
On the issue of appointing a co-chair, the Finance Minister said: “Will elect the Vice Chairman at a subsequent date. The appointment for Vice Chairman can be done unanimously or by voting.”
The central government is trying to resolve all outstanding issues over the uniform pan-India indirect tax regime at the earliest in a bid to meet deadline for its implementation from April 1, 2017.
Jaitley had also said the target roll-out of GST will depend on the passage of the Central GST and the Integrated GST (IGST) bills in Parliament and adoption of respective State GST bills by each state.

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