Cong-ruled states to oppose GST rates at Council meet

Cong-ruled states to oppose GST rates at Council meet

More than half a dozen states are set to oppose the current Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates and seek specific changes at a meeting of the GST Council in Guwahati on November 10.

Finance ministers of Congress-ruled states on Monday said they would seek relaxation in GST compliance for micro, small and medium businesses, besides easing of levies on restaurant bills and exemption for persons carrying out job works, particularly in the textiles, gems and jewellery sectors.

The aggression from the Opposition comes as the Modi government appeared to be on the backfoot on the indirect tax reform by making it clear that it was open to changes in GST that was rolled out on July 1.

"You have to thank the elections, at least they (Modi government) are addressing these issues," said Karnataka Agriculture minister Krishna Byre Gowda, who represents the state at the GST Council meetings. He was flanked by Punjab Finance minister Manpreet Badal and Puducherry Agriculture minister R Kamalakannan.

Among the states that are expected to voice opposition to the GST in its present form are Karnataka, Punjab, West Bengal, Kerala, Puducherry, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Byre Gowda said the Congress-ruled states would seek specific relief on issues such as increasing the threshold for quarterly filing of GST returns for MSME from the current Rs 1.5 crore to Rs 3 crore, lower taxes for agriculture inputs such as micro-irrigation implements, tractor parts and for tourism-related jobs.

"The restaurant sector should be treated with a lighter hand," Byre Gowda said, seeking lower taxes on non-AC restaurants.

Byre Gowda hit out at the Modi government for implementing GST in a "hurried manner" ignoring suggestions from the Congress leaders and even from some BJP-ruled states.

Modi sarkar must pay

"Just 5-6 months ago the atmosphere was such that Modi sarkar alone was responsible for introduction of GST.... if that is so, should they not take up responsibility for messing it up," the Karnataka minister said.

Punjab minister Manpreet Badal rejected suggestions from the government that Congress ministers spoke one thing outside and took an entirely different tone at GST Council meetings.

"The GST Council meetings are minuted. This is not because of political and ideological differences with the BJP. We want to pull the country out of the mess that has been created," Badal said.

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