Finance Minister Gathers State Input for 2024-25 Budget

This will be followed by the 53rd meeting of the GST (Goods & Services Tax) Council on Saturday of which the finance ministers of states and UTs are also members….reports Asian Lite News

Union Minister for Finance Nirmala Sitharaman chaired pre-Budget consultations with the Finance Ministers of states and Union Territories to take their views on board for the upcoming Union Budget 2024-25 here on Saturday.

The meeting was attended by Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary, Chief Ministers of Goa, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Sikkim; Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana; State Finance Ministers and other Ministers; and Senior Officers from the States and Union Territories (with Legislature) and the Union Government.

This will be followed by the 53rd meeting of the GST (Goods & Services Tax) Council on Saturday of which the finance ministers of states and UTs are also members.

The GST Council is likely to deliberate on key issues such as the taxes on fertilisers and the inputs of chemicals used for making fertilisers and taxation on online gaming. The need for an amendment to overrule retrospective tax demands and a possible exemption for reinsurance is also likely to be taken up.

The council may discuss the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilisers to reduce GST on raw materials used to manufacture fertiliser in order to correct the inverted duty structure.

At present GST at a rate of five per cent is charged on fertilisers, while raw materials like Sulphuric Acid and Ammonia face a higher GST of 18 per cent.

A reduction in tax on the import of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services for foreign airlines in India which are currently taxed at 18 per cent may also be taken up for consideration.

Railway Tickets and Services Get GST Exemption

The GST Council meeting chaired by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday decided to exempt services provided by Indian Railways from GST.

Addressing the media after the council meeting, the Finance Minister said the purchase of railway tickets and payments for waiting room and cloak room charges have been exempted from GST.

Similarly, no GST will be levied on services provided like battery-operated vehicles and intra-railway services.

The Council has also decided to exempt GST on charges for hostels for students that are located outside educational institutions.

The exemption will be extended to hostels run by communities as well.

However, the condition will be that the upper limit of charges will be Rs 20,000 per person per month and the student must have stayed in the hostel for a continuous period of 90 days.

The condition has been introduced to prevent hotels from taking advantage of the exemption, she added. 

The Finance Minister clarified that hostels located within education institutions are already exempt from GST.

GST Council Sets Uniform 12% Rate for Milk Cans

The GST Council meeting held on Saturday recommended a uniform GST rate of 12 per cent on all milk cans whether they be made of steel, iron, or aluminum, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Milk cans will be governed by a standard measurement and not by the material they are made of, in order to avoid ambiguity, the Finance Minister said.

They are called milk cans but wherever they are used, that will be the rate applicable so that no disputes arise out of it, she added.

The council also recommended a uniform GST rate of 12 per cent on all carton boxes and cases of both corrugated and non-corrugated paper or paper board.

This will in particular help the apple growers of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

A uniform 12 per cent GST has also been recommended on all types of water sprinklers including fire water sprinklers, she added.

Biometric Authentication to Curb GST Fraud

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council at its 53rd meeting on Saturday decided to roll out pan-India Aadhaar-based biometric authentication to check fake invoicing used to fraudulently claim input tax credit (ITC) by unscrupulous elements, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said. 

Two pilot projects for biometric authentication have already been carried out successfully and now the facility will be rolled out nationwide in a phased manner, the Finance Minister said at a press conference.

To facilitate GST registration, Aadhaar biometric authentication will become mandatory for new registrations across the country, she added.

“This will help us to combat fraudulent input tax credit claims made through fake invoices,” FM Sitharaman said.

FM Sitharaman also said that a Group of Ministers (GoM) for reationalising GST rates has been set up, which will submit a status report in the next meeting.

Bihar Deputy CM Samrat Choudhary will chair the GoM.

FM Sitharaman said that while a lot of decisions were taken at Saturday’s meeting, not all GST issues could be included in the agenda.

The GST Council will meet again after the Budget Session of Parliament is over to take up these issues.

The meeting is likely to be held in mid-August, she added.

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