The 45th Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council meeting does not have an option this time for states to participate via video conferencing, unlike previous meetings.
“Almost all state finance ministers, except Gujarat, are expected to be present this time, as the option to attend through video conferencing has not been given this time,” a government official said.
The GST Council meeting is happening physically after a long time in Lucknow today. The Council is having a physical meeting for the first time in 20 months. The last such meeting was held on December 18, 2019, before the lockdowns were enforced due to Covid-19.
The Council is expected to include food delivery companies like Zomato and Swiggy as restaurant services. This would shift the compliance burden on such companies instead of restaurants, thereby stopping tax evasion. Extension of duty relief on Covid essentials is also likely to be on the cards. The Council would also consider the modalities of continuation of compensation cess beyond June 2022.
The council will review and also clarify the GST rates of 32 goods and 29 services.
The items under review are Zolgensma and Viltepso medicines for personal use, solar PV modules, copper concentrate, carbonated beverage with fruit juice, coconut oil, scented sweet supari, oncology medicine, and diesel-electric locomotives.
With fuel prices soaring, all eyes are set on whether the government brings diesel, petroleum, and petroleum products under the ambit of the indirect tax. However, bring fuel under one tax would require both the central and state governments to make huge adjustments on taxing these products. The Centre and opposition-ruled states were involved in a bitter face-off through the whole of last year over compensation to states due to loss of revenue from subsuming of taxes.
GST is viewed as the only solution to near-record high petrol and diesel rates in the country. GST would end the cascading effect of tax on tax (state VAT being levied not just on the cost of production but also the excise duty charged by the Centre on such output).