Panel to decide on disaster cess for Kerala: Jaitley

Panel to decide on disaster cess for Kerala: Jaitley

The GST Council on Friday avoided an immediate decision on a "disaster cess" to help flood-affected Kerala tied over its losses and opted for wider consultations through a seven-member ministerial panel.

The committee, whose composition will be decided in a day or two, will suggest whether the cess should be a nationwide cess and should it be on luxury and sin goods only.

“It was important not to implement the cess in haste as the view we take today will set a precedent for the country for a very long time,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters after chairing a brief GST Council meeting with his state counterparts through video conferencing in New Delhi.

He said since it was a meeting through video conferencing, it was kept short and not many things were decided.

According to Article 279 (A) of the Constitution, the GST Council can make recommendations to the Central government and states on any special rates for raising additional resources during natural calamities, disasters and special provisions for certain states.

Kerala suffered one of the worst floods of the century, leaving 370 people dead and around 12 lakh homeless.

According to initial estimates, the state has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore and state Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has pressed for additional funds over and above National Disaster Relief Fund for the state to reconstruct its infrastructure.