PM says changes have made GST 'even simpler'

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According to reports, the central government will use the GST Council meet on Friday to push through relief measures for SMEs and exporters which have been the worst hit by the GST.

"Compliance burden of medium and small taxpayers in GST is being reduced", finance minister Arun Jaitley said. The meeting was third since the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax in July this year.

Meanwhile, the FM said that the GST Council has chose to revise tax of many items including sliced mango (12 to 5%), khakra chapati (12 to 5%), ICDS food packages (5 from 18%), unbranded namkeen (5%), unbranded ayurvedi medicine (12 to 5%), plastice waster (18 to 5%), rubber waste (18 to 5%), paper waste (5 from 12%), man made yard (12%) etc.

The officials further clarified, "The GST ranging from 5% to 12% is leviable on branded and packed food items, vegetables and fruits, while no GST is chargeable on unbranded and unpacked food items".

Government contracts involving high amount of labour will be levied 5 per cent GST instead of 12 per cent in order to contain cost of those programmes, he said.

Twitter went into overdrive on Friday after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that the GST for khakra, a popular Gujarati snack, had been reduced to 5% from 12%.

On the much awaited roll out of the e-way bill, Jaitley said that it will be implemented by April 1, 2018. "GST is in line with our constant endeavour to ensure interests of our citizens are safeguarded & India's economy grows", he added. Also, the council has finalised a concept paper defining parameters on which future rate revisions would be done, he said.

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A 5-member ministerial group will provide composition rights to companies in other states and benefits of input subsidy. Jaitley said 1 per cent will be applicable on traders under the composition scheme.

With over 33 lakh businesses filing the final GSTR-1 return, the GoM has tasked GSTN to send reminder text messages to the remaining 20 lakh businesses which are yet to submit the tax forms.

For businesses with a turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore, the council permitted filing of quarterly returns as against the monthly filings mandatory earlier.

So far, over 15 lakh out of the 90 lakh registered businesses have opted for the composition scheme. In the service sector, composition scheme is available only for restaurants.

Under the Value-Added Tax system, there was a provision of filing returns for three months, but under GST, all taxpayers small and big had to file monthly returns.

While a mountain of bad loans has crimped bank lending to India's bigger companies, smaller firms have been hurt by a government move last November to stamp out "black money" - untaxed cash that oils many industries - and by GST, whose complex structure has baffled companies down the supply chain. The Composition Scheme is not available for manufacturers of tobacco and manufactured tobacco substitutes, pan-masala and ice-cream and other edible ice, whether or not containing cocoa.