Highlights of 43rd GST Council Meeting

Synopsis- Key recommendations made during 43rd GST Council meeting and why it is a missed opportunity.

Introduction 

43rd GST Council Meeting took place recently. There were announcements of several measures. However, they failed to inspire any hope of recovery from the disastrous impacts of 2nd wave of the pandemic.

Key recommendations during 43rd GST council meeting
  • GST Amnesty Scheme for small firms pending GST returns
    • The scheme has been recommended for reducing late fees. Now Taxpayers can file pending returns, avail benefits of the scheme, with reduced late fees.
  • Annual Return Filing – The Council has recommended amending the CGST Act 2017. It allows for self-certification of reconciliation statements, instead of getting them certified by Chartered Accountants.
  • The Council exempts import duty on Covid-19 relief materials- The GST Council extends the GST exemption granted on relief material received for free from abroad for donations to State-approved entities.
    • The period for availing of this exemption has also been extended to August 31.
    • The medicine for Black Fungus [Amphotericin-B] has also been included in the exemption list for tax-free imports.
  • GST Compensation Cess to remain the same – Same formula as last year will be adopted in 2021 too. A rough estimate is that the Central Government will have to borrow Rs. 1.58 lakh crores and pass it on to the states.
Key points missed in 43rd GST council meeting
  1. There were no discussions on putting fuel- petrol, diesel under GST, despite high petrol prices.
  2. The Council failed to provide an immediate tax break for critical pandemic relief supplies despite States and industry pressing for waivers.
  3. Inadequate relaxation in GST amnesty scheme – There is no waiver from interest payment available to businesses with a turnover of over ₹5 crores.
Way forward-
  • It would be beneficial to give all businesses a complete waiver of late fees for months hit by the pandemic.
  • Waiting until June 8 for a final decision on extra GST exemptions for COVID relief operations are waste of time. It is especially when each day’s delay in providing relief hurts thousands.

Source- The Hindu

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