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Govt starts GST awareness drive for consumers

Monday, June 05, 2017

The government has started its media blitzkrieg to tell the common man that the upcoming GST will reduce prices of most goods. The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in advertisements in leading dailies gave pictorial representations of items which are exempt from Goods and Services Tax and the ones which would attract lower tax of 5%.

The GST Council, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and comprising his state counterparts, has already decided on tax rates of majority of the commodities. They have been put in slabs of 5, 12, 18 and 28%, with the exception of gold which will attract 3% GST. GST, which will subsume 16 different levies, will be rolled out from July 1.

The CBEC said salt, milk, gur, egg, curd, unpacked food grain and paneer, fresh vegetables, unbranded atta, maida, besan, honey, besides education and health services have all been exempted from GST. "GST-Single tax to reduce prices of most products of mass consumption," it said.

In an interview to PTI last month, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had said that the government will launch a massive awareness campaign to educate consumers about GST so that they are not fleeced by traders in name of the new tax.

"Because we have taken care to ensure that the average tax incidence on commodities does not go up...There may be some traders who will try to tell the consumers that under the changed GST rates they will have to pay more. We have to educate them," Adhia had said. Items like tea, sugar, coffee beans, edible oil, packed paneer, milk powder, brooms, domestic LPG and kerosene have been put in the 5% bracket.

"81% of the items to fall in/below 18% slab. Only 19% of the goods will attract GST above 18%," the CBEC said. For items placed in 12% slab, the CBEC listed butter, ghee, mobiles, cashew, agarbatti, umbrella, fruit juice and sausages.

GST to help in better description of GDP: Anant
The Goods and Services Tax, to be implemented from next month, will be an exciting development from data point of view and help provide a more complete description of the economic activity, Chief Statistician T C A Anant has said. GST will provide data from the point of production to the point of sale because all these would be captured properly under the new indirect tax regime, he said.

The government proposes to roll out GST from July 1 that will subsume all major levies including excise, service tax and VAT. "The GST network (GSTN) from a data point of view is a very exiting development because it is on single network, the transaction chain is being captured and leaves a lot of exiting possibilities," Anant told PTI in an interview.

"From the point of view of a statistician, this will eventually give us much more complete description of economic activities," he added. On whether GST will give real time data, Anant replied, "There is data on collection of excise, VAT, service tax and sales tax. We use these in our GDP compilation at various places.

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